Month: January 2015

“A Victory For One Is A Victory For All” – A Letter From Anarchist Prisoner, Eric King to Sacramento Prisoner Support and Eric McDavid

B63-czVCAAAlUlCEric-King-Molotov-Cocktail-Defendant

Sat Jan 9th  ?

POW CAMP Leavenworth

Dear SPS,

What a feeling of victory and vindication that must be flowing through your ranks, as well as through all those who have offered prisoner support. The news of Eric’s release reached me Friday afternoon and it felt as if I myself had been set free. What a long, difficult road he has had to travel upon to finally reach freedom’s exit sign. As unjust as the sentencing was, is as sweet the release must feel! Just imagining the Joy his comrades, partner, family must all be feeling fills me with the same joy. A victory for one is a victory for all. Please send my kindest congratulatory message to Eric and everyone involved in his support team.

I have heard that his support team (many of you) has done well to make sure his rehabilitation into freedom will go as smoothly as possible. No one can undo the injustices suffered but many can make sure the transition goes as smoothly as possible and I have a good feeling that the people around him will take full care of that. I am curious what, if any at this point, plans Eric has for the future? Work for prisoner support, continued environmental fight? I hope the suffering the state has put him through hasn’t diminished his belief in the causes he once (currently?) took solace in.

Most importantly though is the now, and the now is that our comrade is free, not just free but free substantially sooner than the state would have preferred. With the amount of comrades being released early, hopefully the tone will be set to prevent such vicious inhumane sentencing in any future cases. May this victory lead the way baring the torch of freedom, lighting the darkened path many of us still must thread. I am grateful that Eric had such brilliant support, that no one gave up hope. I am thankful that groups exist to be there for those of us who need it desperately. So congratulations to everyone involved, and to our beautiful cause as a whole. Please keep up the fight. Until All are Free.

In immense Joy & Solidarity,

E K

Eric King 27090045
CCA Leavenworth
100 Highway Terrace
Leavenworth, KS 66048

IMAG0007

Anti-fascist, Jason Hammond sentenced to 41 months for action against white supremacists.

JasonHammond

http://freejasonhammond.blogspot.com/

I write this statement after pleading guilty to state charges against me for my participation in an organized direct action taken against a group of white supremacists in May of 2012. I would like to share my thoughts about this action. First, major thanks and love to my friends and family who have supported me, for my amazing partner who kept me sane, my band for letting loose and my lawyer Sara Garber who has been ridiculously helpful in fighting this case with me.

While Chicago was in rebellion against the western military super-alliance NATO summit in 2012, a small group of racists organized their own ‘white nationalist economic summit’ in the nearby suburb of Tinley Park. They booked a restaurant to hold a luncheon under the guise of the “Illinois European Heritage Association.” For over six months this event was promoted on Stormfront.org, a very popular online forum where racists and neo-nazis converse. Being in a prolonged state of resistance against racism, this summit became known to organized anti-fascists throughout the Midwest. Through research, they had ascertained the time, location, and even some identities of the attendees of this meeting, some of whom were already known as being members of white supremacist groups such as the KKK, National Socialist Movement and Council of Conservative Citizens. Upon becoming aware of this  information, myself and others decided to confront the fascists at their meeting. A righteous melee ensued, many of the ten white supremacists were injured, and we left the scene in less than two minutes.
In the aftermath, the police was called and two of the fascist attendees were arrested one for being a fugitive of pedophilia charges in another state and the other for illegal possession of firearms in their car onsite. Unfortunately after leaving the restaurant, five comrades from Hoosier Anti Racist Movement were also arrested for their involvement by an off duty cop. They are known as the Tinley Park 5, all of whom spent time in Illinois prisons after taking a non-cooperative plea, and have since been released on parole. Please read about their struggles at their wordpress.
A year after the action, in July 2013, I was arrested outside my home by the FBI and Tinley Park Police. I was charged with armed violence and mob action,  the same as the other 5 anti-fascists. My indictment states the Tinley Park Police were given a report from the FBI stating that they had identified me from DNA gathered at the scene and a surveillance video from the restaurant where the meeting was shut down. I was held in Cook County Jail for two months but was fortunate to have friends who raised enough money to release me on bond. I have since been fighting these charges. The wheels of the bureaucratic judicial system moves deliberately slow and another whole year and a half passes. Now, even with the privilege of being able to examine all the evidence and evaluate all of my options while out on bond, I must accept the judge’s offer of 3.5 years. My chances of winning the case were very low, and if I lost, it could potentially mean a significantly higher sentence.
It is difficult to decide whether to plea or not when faced with gambling years of your life in prison, but I also completely detest the narrative of the state and their courtrooms. Their story is that they rightfully apprehended the criminal, tried, and put them away in prison;where they will learn not to do it again while separated from society where they cannot spread their infectious ideas. That system does not work and it never will. I abhor this monopoly of justice and violence; the reality is that the state wants people in their prisons especially people whose political interest are in conflict  to the “business as usual” violence that their police and armies perpetrate. My crime is standing up against the flag of hate and the violence against people of color that it represents. The state, in a petty act, went out of their way years later to prosecute me.
Furthermore, the state has always supported a white supremacist power structure. Even after the endless series of racist wars and hundreds of years of oppression on this soil, they don’t see it as a problem when neo-nazis get together and in fact grant permits and have lines of police to protect their free speech. In Ferguson, New York, Chicago and beyond, we see police use military grade equipment in conjunction with the National Guard to combat people protesting the unjust murders of Mike Brown and Eric Garner at the hands of law enforcement. These are not isolated incidents, but rather symptomatic and indicative of a deliberate move to uphold the pillars of white supremacy in this country, which will not change unless we fight against it.

I went into this action following the principles of anarchy, equality and freedom which have guided my life. For many years I have been involved in different projects engaging social justice, from volunteering at social centers, community public libraries and food distribution programs.I have also supported and participated in anti-war, environmental and immigrant rights movements. Through these experiences I became more aware of how the system that governs this society depends on the mass exploitation of large parts of the population and in fact the Earth itself for the profit of the rich and powerful. I was inspired and motivated by the people I met in the movement to strive to make change at the root of the problem, even if it meant possibly sacrificing my own personal freedom. Throughout history, any movement that struggled to change this system was considered dangerous by the government and was met with immense repression and state violence. But there were successful moments within these movements not only because they were justified, but because people fought for them and despite how history is presented like a Disney movie, not all of their actions were non-violent.

Today there still is police brutality, a massive prison industrial complex, there are presidents waging endless wars for profit and power, and there is violence, alienation and marginalization at the crossroads of gender, sexuality, race and class.  It would be naive to think that all of these problems could only be solved through pacifism; working with or within the system, following dogmatic and assimilative reformist agendas that take over and sell out movements; the answer lies in creative resistance that utilizes a wide diversity of tactics. I think some people have always known this but more need to reject the privileged tendency to reject destruction of property, or of the bodies protecting the state as taboo violence instead of as a legitimate form of resistance. As our collective patience is constantly being worn away by failures of government to address people’s actual needs, it is up to our own communities and individuals to decide for themselves what is an appropriate form of self-defense
But I would also like to note that the hyper-spectacularization and priority of violence amongst folks in the movement might also be folly, because I believe it in itself is not sufficient for a real radical transformation of society. People need to look within to make the change they want to see in the world as well as raise hell in the streets. People are improving their communities through their own support, healing circles, discussion groups, rallies, speak-outs, prisoner support, popular education, community health projects and asking hard questions and challenging oppressive thoughts however they manifest.

The ideas and actions that these white supremacists are pushing are dangerous and poisonous and is unfortunately still deeply rooted within the fabric of this society. Racism manifests itself in a number of ways and none can be ignored; from the blatant and overt bigots like those at the meeting in Tinley Park but also the subtle micro-aggressions that people experience on a daily basis. We are all obligated to confront the dead old ways of these oppressive ideologies using every means possible. My actions were in the spirit of continued resistance against racism and fascism and for the rights of people to live without fear of racist attacks. Those in struggle know the risk of jail, pain or death when trying to radically change the structure of society but it is a struggle we cannot ignore and we intend to win!

After the interruption of the meeting in Tinley Park, the organizing group for their economic summit disbanded and the individual who booked the event said that they were “stepping away from white nationalist organizing.” When a comrade is arrested the movement bears a high cost but actions like these can prove affective as they dissuade people from joining hate groups and preventing the work that they do. I feel these tactics could also apply to different avenues of struggle, directed towards exploitative bosses, racist cops, gentrifying landlords, sexists anywhere, and fascist politicians.
Some people have speculated my arrest was part of some revenge plot of the FBI because of the hacking and whistle-blowing my brother Jeremy Hammond has done against various sectors of the government and the private intelligent corporations they work with. While I love and support my brother and his actions 1000% and condemn the FBI and the US government for their own cyber wars they wage, I think it is unlikely that was the reason why I was held in custody. As stated earlier, the FBI did provide a report to the local police putting some of their pieces together which raises questions to why they would consider a bunch of neo-nazis getting beat up a matter of national security. Regardless, my brother and I were both apprehended because our actions were not carried out with absolute precision and every precaution made to disguise our identities and ensure we would not be busted.

However, it is absolutely true that we live in a vulnerable society with extreme governmental overreach, where anyone could be subject to surveillance, entrapment, targeted prosecutions and trumped up treason and terrorism charges purely for ideological reasons. It is a context deliberately cooked up by politicians and the national security complex to create fear and distrust amongst activist circles, as we can see looking at the huge number of dissidents who have been jailed or killed. Again, I’ll state my respect for political prisoners in any country who are staying strong and struggling to fight the power. I would encourage anyone who considers taking direct action to know why they are doing it and do so carefully as to not jeopardize themselves, their comrades, or the movement itself. A person in prison is another person we have to free.

To those whose worlds were shaken and who are angry or displeased at my actions, remind yourselves humbly of the atrocious history of violence that white supremacy has done and continues to do so to this  society and ask yourself, do I support it? Do I benefit from it? Will this be my legacy? Or do I want to change it?

I have set up a blog where I will post updates regularly that will also include my mailing address and visiting hours. Also I will have set up an Amazon Wish List where people can send me some love through books. This will be set up once I arrive at the state prison where I will likely carry out the majority of my sentence. While I am here I intend to make the most of my time staying positive and motivated through reading, working out, and meditating. I am interested in continuing communication and having discussions with people through letters, so please write me when you have the chance.

Yours for the struggle!
 
With love and rage,

Jason Hammond

Norberto Gonzalez Claudio released from prison!

Norberto Gonzalez Claudio

http://www.prolibertadweb.org/

On January 15th, 2015 Norberto Gonzalez Claudio was released from prison, and began his journey back home to Puerto Rico, and when he arrived he was welcomed by a crowd of supporters!

Here is info. on his arrest and imprisonment:

Born in Vega Baja on May 27, 1945, the second youngest of 6 siblings: 2 women, Mercedes and María Magdalena, and 3 men, Avelino, Orlando and Wilfredo. He lived in the neighborhood of Almirante Sur with his mother Cristina Claudio Narváez and his father Antonio González Vega until he was 7 years old. The family then moved to the neighborhood of Rio Abajo to “the González farm” (his family), where he stayed until he married Elda Santiago Pérez in 1979. Together they had 3 children: Elda Cristina, Susana and Carlos, and they also raised Elda’s sons Pedro and Ramón as their own. During his childhood, he played and ran around like every child does. His father called him Captain. He always had fond memories of his father, but his mother was someone very special for him. Her serenity, firmness, strength, wisdom, the strength of a working woman that his mother embodied have been his inheritance and his pride. With her he learned love, sensitivity, and simplicity, as well as to not give in to the powerful.

He joined the struggle for social justice and the independence of Puerto Rico in the decade of the 60’s while he was a university student. He was a member of the Federation of Pro Independence Students (FUPI), the Pro Independence Movement (MPI) and the Puerto Rican Socialist Party (PSP). He got his political training in the Arecibo region. He was known in his town for selling the newspaper Claridad. He had a post on a corner of Betances Street in the center of his town, and put on activities of protest music in the plaza. He actively participated in the Vega Baja’s Garbage Collectors strike in 1970, in the student strikes of 1970 and 1971 at the University of Puerto Rico, and in the protests against the mines in Adjuntas, where he camped out for several months.

He was in clandestinity since 1985 for defending his people, his homeland, his nation, and fighting for socialism because he thinks it is the just economic model for all peoples. He is in solidarity with Latin American countries in their restorative struggles and with all countries that struggle for their freedom and for socialism. He fervently believes and struggles for patriotic unity. “We must unite on everything we can agree on. Our differences should be left for internal discussions within each organization,” he insists. He is a poet. He writes of his family, life, the homeland, youth, and his eternal love: his wife, to whom, as if a premonition of his future, he dedicated since the very moment they got married Don Pablo Neruda’s The Letter on the Road. In late 2012, Norberto pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 5 years in prison.

The Empire Hits! and an update on Bill Dunne

bill2

Here is The Empire Hits!, a recent piece by Bill Dunne which is very much related to his 15 year hit. Also, here is his new address:

Bill Dunne #10916-086
FCI Herlong
Post Office Box 800
Herlong, California 96113

– – – – – – – – – – – – –
The Empire Hits!

The U.S. Parole Commission conducted a hearing for a 15 year reconsideration of my case on 5 November 2014. The last 15 year continuance (“hit”) was set to expire in December. The hearing examiner went through the usual things:offender characteristics; the circumstances
of my 1979 offenses; a 1983 escape attempt; ancient disciplinary infractions. I was thinking a good outcome would be a one year date, a bad one, five years (and, having long experience with the agency of repression, expecting the worst!). Then the examiner went unusual. He unleashed a tirade about anarchist connections and anti-authoritarian views. He recommended another 15 year hit on the basis thereof. Four weeks later, I got a Notice of Action (NOA) from the commission adopting the recommendation and setting my next reconsideration for November of 2029.

The commission made much of the facts that I was on parole and the 1979 conspiracy included three armed bank robberies to finance the escape of a federal prisoner who had killed a customs agent. It also changed the assault of a Seattle police officer during the escape to attempted murder, using this change to raise my offense behavior category and guideline range. It did so notwithstanding that I was not at the scene of the shooting, the shooter was paroled ten years ago, and having established the old category in 2000 and defended it through seven hearings and appeals. The real reason for the higher offense behavior category is that its guidelines have no upper limit. I’ve already served more than the top guidelines under the previous, lower category.

The commission then added a specific amount of time to my parole guidelines for each disciplinary infraction I’ve had. That came to (erroneously, but ad arguendo) 32-132 months. Next, it singled out five of those infractions from 31, 31, 30, 25, and 19 years ago (attempted escape, knife, handcuff key, “uncompleted” handcuff key, escape paraphernalia — the second and last bogus) as indicative I was a more serious risk than my parole prognosis showed. These infractions, the commission alleged without saying why, further justified exceeding the guidelines by so much as the 15 year hit. It thus used the infractions to both raise and exceed the guidelines contrary to its own rules.

The commission required my codefendant to serve some 198 months on identical charges stemming from the jailbreak conspiracy, and our offender characteristics are virtually identical. The 132 month maximum the commission’s rescission guidelines say should be added to my parole guidelines thus suggests a sentence in the range of 330 months for me. The commission and the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) both agreed I had 344 months in at the time of the hearing. (I actually had 421 months in, but they say the other 77 months went to the state time I got as a result of the same events.) The commission also ignored the statutory injunction that “old law” prisoners like me should be paroled after 30 years, which would put me out no later than 18 March 2016, even under their erroneous calculation.

The commission shifted into political police mode, saying, “the Commission finds your continued association and affiliation with anarchist organizations is evidence you still harbor anti-authoritarian views that are not compatible with the welfare of society or with the conditions of parole.” The NOA says zero about what it means by “anarchist,” “association,” “affiliation,” or “anti-authoritarian views” or why they might be problematic for society or parole. The examiner did mention a few specifics and waved some printouts, but did not explain what was so wrong with their content. He said I’d get copies, but so far I have not. There is no BOP or commission rule forbidding information by or about prisoners being published on the net.

The commission’s hearing examiner mentioned three sites: Prison Radio, LA-ABCF (Los Angeles Anarchist Black Cross Federation), and Denver ABC. None of them advocate violence or criminality. They are posted by mostly working class and poor people who want to make their communities and world better places. The examiner denounced “Running Down the Walls,” but did not say why. RDTW is a running event sponsored every year by LA-ABCF for more than the last 20 in which people from many communities participate to express their opposition to the overuse of incarceration, especially for political purposes. The Prisoners’ Committee of the ABCF, of which the examiner also disapproved for no stated reason, advises the ABCF on effective ways to support political prisoners, none of which involve illegality. Nor is the committee’s advice always solicited or followed. Prison Radio produces broadcasts of news and information about prison issues from a radical left perspective but advocates no violation of the law. All of these web sites post information about particular cases, prisoners, situations, and events their operators think the bright light of public scrutiny would help reach a more positive resolution. They make their posts based on their own analysis and choices; they are self-directed and independent. As for anti-authoritarian, that’s supposed to be the position of the government itself: “anti” authoritarian regimes such as Putin’s Russia, etc., and pro democracy. The commission’s decision was the reverse.

The commission also said efforts to contact my codefendant were evidence I am likely to “reengage in similar criminal activity” if released, but does not say how so. My codefendant was released from prison 10 years ago and from parole five years ago. I don’t think he’s had so much as a traffic ticket in that time. One would think the commission would want me to learn from him whatever it was he did to convince them to release him from both prison and parole. No hearing examiner could tell me, and I asked at many hearings.

The commission apparently feels anything it deems anarchist — and, by implication, any radical left–political activity or connection warrants denial of parole. It denied me because it feels I am thus involved. I’ve already served more time than could be reasonably assessed for my offense behavior and disciplinary record. My codefendant’s offense role and offender characteristics are virtually identical. Hence, the time demanded of me should be comparable plus prescribed disciplinary time. That total would be less time than I’ve already served. Nor is politics any basis for parole denial. The notion that mere correspondence with anarchists or my codefendant evidences criminal intent is simply frivolous: no print or pictures or audio to felonious intent were ever alleged, and there are no rules against such contact. Nor has the commission ever objected before to these long-standing connections, and the BOP approved them. Neither the “anarchist organizations” nor my codefendant has any criminal history during the relevant times.

The commission’s blatant use of such demonstrably inadequate and inappropriate reasons to deny my parole is remarkable. I have already filed an administrative appeal and will continue the appeal via habeas corpus against both the BOP and commission. Not only are the unsupported, conclusory, and irrelevant claims cited for denying me parole a violation of the commission’s own rules, their use constitutes a gross infringement on the First Amendment. That use violates what remains of my right to hold and express positive, progressive politics as well as that of the people and groups whose speech and association are undermined by such government attacks on political expression via the internet. I am confident that I and any comrades who have supported me by putting information by or about me or my politics into the public domain to protect me from the depredations of power have done so in good faith and not in any way that could legitimately be construed as “not compatible with the welfare of society.” I’m confident we will not cave to such pressure to self-censor.

An Update and a Note From recently released Political Prisoner, Eric McDavid!

IMG_0208

Dear friends and comrades!

We just wanted to send you a quick update from/about Eric.  Below you will
find info about how to write Eric, how to donate to post-release funds,
and a note from Eric!

The outpouring of support we have received from all across the world has
been incredible.  Thank you all so much.  We are in tears several times a
day from reading your kind notes, emails and texts full of love and
solidarity.

So many of you have asked what you can do now to support Eric
post-release.  Thank you for knowing and understanding the importance of
continued support!

If you would like to write Eric or send him care packages, you can send
them to:

Eric McDavid
c/o SPS
PO Box 163126
Sacramento, CA  95816

We are still accepting donations through the PayPal account on Eric's
website.  You can find a link at:
http://supporteric.org/howtohelp.htm#Fundraising

Thank you all for your continued love and solidarity!

Yours,
Sacramento Prisoner Support

And now...


i cannot begin this without an overflowingly gushing heartfelt thanks for
the amazing support, aid, and solidarity provided by so many people from
so many places - seeing me through these past 9 years to bring me home...
tears of release and joy will continue to wet my cheeks - i don't wipe
them away...  the folks at Sacramento Prisoner Support have never wavered
in going above and beyond while enduring all the pressures that come from
moving contrary to what the FBI had considered a closed case - i love you
all so dearly.  to my habeas attorneys, mark and ben, your work on this
process certainly hasn't changed my view of the legal system - but it has
proven to me that humyns can actually survive the bar with their strong
and beautiful hearts intact, still connected, and persevering as a guiding
force in their lives = 'thank you' will never be enough, i love you
both...  surviving these last 9 years has brought me to a new
understanding of patience and how it can be passionate, thereby sustaining
the need for a longer view; one that will continue to help me as i move
into aiding those still held behind razor wire fences, concrete, and
steel...  so many others have cases as ridiculous as my own - some much
worse, and have been in for decades; a number i met personally and others
i dream of meeting upon their release.  thank you all so much for all of
your love and support as i begin to move into this next phase of my life.
i'll be in touch again soon.  for now i hope to focus on spending time
with my loved ones and reconnecting with the community that i love and
have missed for so long.

too much love.

find UR joy

d

Eric McDavid was released on January 8th, 2015!

B63-czVCAAAlUlC


Dear friends and comrades,

It is with bursting hearts that we write to tell you some amazing news. 
Today, January 8, Eric was ordered released from prison.  It has been
almost 9 years exactly since he was arrested in Auburn, CA, on January 13,
2006.

Eric’s release came about because of the habeas petition that he and his
legal team filed in May 2012.  Because the government withheld important
documents from the defense at trial, Eric’s original judgment and
sentencing were vacated and he pleaded guilty to a lesser charge that
carried a five year maximum sentence.  This means Eric has already spent
four years longer in prison than could have been required under the
statute for the charge he pleaded guilty to.  He received credit for time
served and was ordered released.

Eric’s projected release date - until today - was February of 2023.

We are beyond thrilled that Eric will soon be back home with us, where he
belongs.  But nothing can change the fact that Eric and his loved ones
have had 9 years stolen from them by the state.  At times, this fight
seemed almost impossible.  Eric endured hunger strikes, solitary, the
separation of hundreds of miles from everyone and everything he loved, and
the isolation and cold walls and wire of prison.  These things were meant
to break him - but the state has utterly failed in this endeavor.  Eric
remains steadfast and strong.  Eric fought the charges against him 9 years
ago because he knew it was the right thing to do.  He has maintained his
integrity all of these years by staying true to himself and to the things
he believes in.   But he has not done this in a vacuum.  Thank you to
everyone who has shown their love and support these last nine years.  It
has made all the difference.  To everyone who has ever written a letter,
sent drawings of dragons or pictures of fairies, or included pictures of
something as simple as a blade of grass…  you have given Eric’s life
color, fire and connection these past 9 years.  You have proven that our
solidarity is our strongest weapon.

We are anxious to celebrate!  But we also must remember that Eric’s case
is just one among many - and it is by no means the most egregious.  Since
9/11 the state has engaged in political prosecutions of hundreds of people
in this country - the majority of them from Muslim communities - for their
religious and political affiliations.  And our comrades continue to be
targeted and arrested for daring to dream.  We are overjoyed that Eric is
coming home.  But we also know that we must never rest until all are free.

Eric has been released from Sacramento County jail, but his struggle is far from over. 
 He received two years of
supervised release and will be under their watch during that time.  Coming
out of prison is a complicated and difficult journey,  but it is one that
we are excited and ready to begin.

Thanks again to all of you - and a big shout out to Eric’s lawyers  - Mark
Vermeulen and Ben Rosenfeld - who have worked tirelessly and passionately
on his case for years, pro bono.

We will be in touch in the coming weeks.  Until then - celebrate! 
Struggle!  And as Eric would say…Find UR Joy!

So much love to you all.

Until all are free!

-Sacramento Prisoner support

Plea Agreement 1-8-15 (EMD)-1

McDavid_Release_Order

Joint Status Report 1-5-15 (EMD)

Eyes of The Rainbow and Two Letters From Assata Shakur

images12

With all of the current campaigning by the New Jersey government to have Assata Shakur extradited, this seems like a great time to get her story into circulation again. Cuba has made it clear already that they granted Assata Shakur political asylum for a reason, and that’s not changing. Let’s keep her story alive, and keep her words alive. Share these words she speaks, and share these words she writes. Assata Shakur deserves to live in peace!

Click the following link to watch Eyes of The Rainbow, The Assata Shakur Documentary:

http://www.eyesoftherainbow.com/

Here is the open letter from Assata Shakur, and the letter to the pope she references follows at the bottom:

Assata Shakur : An Open Letter To The Media

Dec 23, 2014

My name is Assata Shakur, and I am a 20th century escaped slave.

Because of government persecution, I was left with no other choice than

to flee from the political repression, racism and violence that

dominate the US government’s policy towards people of color. I am an

ex-political prisoner, and I have been living in exile in Cuba since

1984.

I have been a political activist most of my life, and although the U.S.

government has done everything in its power to criminalize me, I am not

a criminal, nor have I ever been one. In the 1960s, I participated in

various struggles: the black liberation movement, the student rights

movement, and the movement to end the war in Vietnam. I joined the

Black Panther Party. By 1969 the Black Panther Party had become the

number one organization targeted by the FBI’s COINTELPRO program.

Because the Black Panther Party demanded the total liberation of black

people, J. Edgar Hoover called it greatest threat to the internal

security of the country and vowed to destroy it and its leaders and

activists.

In 1978, my case was one of many cases brought before the United Nations

Organization in a petition filed by the National Conference of Black

Lawyers, the National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression,

and the United Church of Christ Commission for Racial Justice, exposing

the existence of political prisoners in the United States, their

political persecution, and the cruel and inhuman treatment they receive

in US prisons. According to the report:The FBI and the New York Police Department in particular, charged and accused Assata Shakur of participating in attacks on law enforcement

personnel and widely circulated such charges and accusations among

police agencies and units. The FBI and the NYPD further charged her as

being a leader of the Black Liberation Army which the government and

its respective agencies described as an organization engaged in the

shooting of police officers.

This description of the Black Liberation Army and the accusation of

Assata Shakur’s relationship to it was widely circulated by government

agents among police agencies and units. As a result of these activities

by the government, Ms. Shakur became a hunted person; posters in police

precincts and banks described her as being involved in serious criminal

activities; she was highlighted on the FBI’s most wanted list; and to

police at all levels she became a ‘shoot-to-kill’ target.

I was falsely accused in six different criminal cases and in

all six of these cases I was eventually acquitted or the charges were

dismissed. The fact that I was acquitted or that the charges were

dismissed, did not mean that I received justice in the courts, that was

certainly not the case. It only meant that the evidence presented against me was so flimsy and false that my innocence became evident.

This political persecution was part and parcel of the government’s

policy of eliminating political opponents by charging them with crimes

and arresting them with no regard to the factual basis of such

charges.

On May 2, 1973 I, along with Zayd Malik Shakur and Sundiata Acoli were

stopped on the New Jersey Turnpike, supposedly for a faulty tail

light. Sundiata Acoli got out of the car to determine why we were

stopped. Zayd and I remained in the car. State trooper Harper then came

to the car, opened the door and began to question us. Because we were

black, and riding in a car with Vermont license plates, he claimed he

became suspicious. He then drew his gun, pointed it at us,

and told us to put our hands up in the air, in front of us, where he could see

them. I complied and in a split second, there was a sound that came

from outside the car, there was a sudden movement, and I was shot once

with my arms held up in the air, and then once again from the

back.

Zayd Malik Shakur was later killed, trooper Werner Foerster was killed,

and even though trooper Harper admitted that he shot and killed Zayd

Malik Shakur, under the New Jersey felony murder law, I was charged

with killing both Zayd Malik Shakur, who was my closest friend and

comrade, and charged in the death of trooper Foerster. Never in my life

have I felt such grief. Zayd had vowed to protect me, and to help me to

get to a safe place, and it was clear that he had lost his life, trying

to protect both me and Sundiata. Although he was also unarmed, and the

gun that killed trooper Foerster was found under Zayd’s leg, Sundiata

Acoli, who was captured later, was also charged with both deaths.

Neither Sundiata Acoli nor I ever received a fair trial. We were both

convicted in the news media way before our trials. No news media was

ever permitted to interview us, although the New Jersey police and the

FBI fed stories to the press on a daily basis. In 1977, I was convicted

by an all- white jury and sentenced to life plus 33 years in

prison.

In 1979, fearing that I would be murdered in prison, and knowing that I

would never receive any justice, I was liberated from prison, aided by

committed comrades who understood the depths of the injustices in my

case, and who were also extremely fearful for my life.

The U.S. Senate’s 1976 Church Commission report on intelligence

operations inside the USA, revealed that The FBI has attempted

covertly to influence the public’s perception of persons and

organizations by disseminating derogatory information to the press,

either anonymously or through friendly news contacts.

This same policy is evidently still very much in effect today.

On December 24, 1997, The New Jersey State called a press conference to

announce that New Jersey State Police had written a letter to Pope John

Paul II asking him to intervene on their behalf and to aid in having me

extradited back to New Jersey prisons. The New Jersey State Police

refused to make their letter public. Knowing that they had probably

totally distorted the facts, and attempted to get the Pope to do the

devils work in the name of religion, I decided to write the Pope to

inform him about the reality of justice for black people in

the State of New Jersey and in the United States. (See attached Letter to

the Pope).

In January of 1998, during the pope’s visit to Cuba, I agreed to do an

interview with NBC journalist Ralph Penza around my letter to the Pope,

about my experiences in New Jersey court system, and about the changes

I saw in the United States and it’s treatment of Black people in the

last 25 years. I agreed to do this interview because I saw this secret

letter to the Pope as a vicious, vulgar, publicity maneuver on the part

of the New Jersey State Police, and as a cynical attempt to manipulate

Pope John Paul II. I have lived in Cuba for many years, and was

completely out of touch with the sensationalist, dishonest, nature of

the establishment media today. It is worse today than it was 30 years

ago.

After years of being victimized by the establishment media it

was naive of me to hope that I might finally get the opportunity to tell

my side of the story. Instead of an interview with me, what

took place was a staged media event in three parts, full of

distortions, inaccuracies and outright lies. NBC purposely misrepresented the facts.

Not only did NBC spend thousands of dollars promoting this

exclusive interview series on NBC, they also spent a great deal of money

advertising this exclusive interview on black radio stations

and also placed notices in local newspapers.

Like most poor and oppressed people in the United States, I do not have

a voice. Black people, poor people in the U.S. have no real freedom of

speech, no real freedom of expression and very little freedom of the

press. The black press and the progressive media has historically

played an essential role in the struggle for social justice. We need to

continue and to expand that tradition. We need to create media outlets

that help to educate our people and our children, and not annihilate

their minds. I am only one woman. I own no TV stations, or Radio Stations or Newspapers.

But I feel that people need to be educated as to what is going on, and to understand

the connection between the news media and the instruments of repression

in Amerika. All I have is my voice, my spirit and the will to tell the

truth. But I sincerely ask, those of you in the Black media, those of

you in the progressive media, those of you who believe in true

freedom, to publish this statement and to let people know what is

happening. We have no voice, so you must be the voice of the

voiceless.

Free all Political Prisoners, I send you Love and Revolutionary

Greetings From Cuba, One of the Largest, Most Resistant and Most

Courageous Palenques (Maroon Camps) That has ever existed on the Face

of this Planet.

Assata Shakur

Havana, Cuba

Your Holiness,

I hope this letter finds you in good health, in good disposition, and enveloped in the spirit of goodness. I must confess that it had never occurred to me before to write to you, and I find myself overwhelmed and moved to have this opportunity.

Although circumstances have compelled me to reach out to you, I am glad to have this occasion to try and cross the boundaries that would otherwise tend to separate us.

I understand that the New Jersey State Police have written to you and asked you to intervene and to help facilitate my extradition back to the United States. I believe that their request is unprecedented in history. Since they have refused to make their letter to you public, although they have not hesitated to publicize their request, I am completely uninformed as to the accusations they are making against me. Why, I wonder, do I warrant such attention? What do I represent that is such a threat?

Please let me take a moment to tell you about myself. My name is Assata Shakur and I was born and raised in the United States. I am a descendant of Africans who were kidnapped and brought to the Americas as slaves. I spent my early childhood in the racist segregated South. I later moved to the northern part of the country, where I realized that Black people were equally victimized by racism and oppression.

I grew up and became a political activist, participating in student struggles, the anti-war movement, and, most of all, in the movement for the liberation of African Americans in the United States. I later joined the Black Panther Party, an organization that was targeted by COINTELPRO, a program that was set up by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to eliminate all political opposition to the U.S. government’s policies, to destroy the Black Liberation Movement in the U.S., and to discredit activists and to eliminate potential leaders.

As a result of being targeted by COINTELPRO, I, like many other young people, was faced with the threat of prison, underground, exile or death.

At this point, I think that it is important to make one thing very clear. I have advocated and still advocate revolutionary changes in the structure and in the principles that govern the U.S. I advocate an end to capitalist exploitation, the abolition of racist policies, the eradication of sexism, and the elimination of political repression. If that is a crime, then I am totally guilty.

To make a long story short, …let me emphasize that justice for me is not the issue, it is justice for my people that is at stake. When my people receive justice, I am sure that I will receive it, too. I know that Your Holiness will reach your own conclusions, but I feel compelled to present the circumstances surrounding the applicatlon of “justice” in New Jersey. I am not the first nor the last person to be victimized by the New Jersey system of “justice.” The New Jersey State Police are infamous for their racism and brutallty. Many legal actions have been filed against them and just recently, in a class action legal proceeding, the New Jersey State Police were found guilty of having an “officially sanctioned, de facto policy of targeting minorities for investigation and arrest.”

Although New Jersey’s population is more than 78 percent white, more than 75 percentof the prison population is made up of Blacks and Latinos. Eighty percent of women in New Jersey prisons are women of color. There are 15 people on death row in the state and seven of them are Black. A 1987 study found that New Jersey prosecutors sought the death penalty in 50 percent of cases involving a Black defendant and a white victim, but in only 28 percent of cases involving a Black defendant and a Black victim.

Unfortunately, the situation in New Jersey is not unique, but reflects the racism that permeates the entire country. The United States has the highest rate of incarceration in the world. There are more than 1.7 million people in U.S. prisons. This number does not include the more than 500,000 people in city and county jails, nor does it include the alarming number of children in juvenile institutions.

The vast majority of those behind bars are people of color and virtually all of those behind bars are poor.

The result of this reality is devastating. One third of Black men between the ages of 20 and 29 are either in prison or under the jurisdiction of the criminal justice system.

Prisons are big business in the United States, and the building, running, and supplying of prisons has become the fastest growing industry in the country. Factories are being moved into the prisons and prisoners are being forced to work for slave wages. This super-exploitation of human beings has meant the institutionalization of a new form of slavery. Those who cannot find work are forced to work in prison.

Not only are prisons being used as instruments of economic exploitation, they also serve as lnstruments of political repression. There are more than 100 political prisoners in the U.S. They are African Americans, Puerto Ricans, Chicanos, Natlve Americans, Asians, and progressive white people who oppose the policies of the United States government. Many of those targeted by the COINTELPRO program have been in prison since the early 1970s.

Although the situation in the prisons is an lndication of human rights violations inside the United States, there are other, more deadly indicators.

There are currently 3,365 people now on death row, and more than 50 percent of those awaiting death are people of color. Black people make up only 13 percent of the population, but we make up 41 percent of persons who have received the death penalty.

The number of state assassinations has increased drastically. In 1997 alone, 71 people were executed.

A special reporter assigned by the United Nations organization found serious human rights violations in the U.S., especially those related to the death penalty. According to these findings, people who were mentally ill were sentenced to death, and people with severe mental and learning disabilities, as well as minors under age 18. Serious racial bias was found on the part of judges and prosecutors.

Specifically mentioned in the report was the case of Mumia Abu-Jamal, the only political prisoner on death row, who was sentenced to death because of his political beliefs and because of his work as a journalist, exposing police brutality in the city of Philadelphia.

Police brutality is a daily occurrence in our communities. The police have a virtual license to kill and they do kill: children, grandmothers, anyone they perceive to be the enemy. They shoot first and ask questions later. Inside the jails and prisons there is at least as much brutality as there was on slave plantations. An ever increasing number of prisoners are found hanging in their cells.

The United States is becoming a land more hostile to Black people and other people of Color. Racism is running rampant and xenophobia is on the rise. This has been especially true in the sphere of domestic policy.

Politicians are attempting to blame social problems on Black people and other people of color. There have been attacks on essentially all affirmative action programs designed to help correct the accumulated results of hundreds of years of slavery and discrimination. In addition, the government seems determined to eliminate all social programs that provide assistance to the poor, resulting in a situation where millions of people do not have access to basic health care, decent housing or quality education.

It was with great happiness that I read the Christmas message that Your Holiness delivered. I applaud you for taking up the cause of the poor, the homeless, the unemployed. The fact that you are addressing the issues of today, unemployment, hopelessness, child abuse, and the drug problem, is important to people all over the world.

One third of Black people in the United States live in poverty, and our communities are inundated with drugs. We have every reason to believe that the CIA and other government agencies are involved in drug trafficking.

Although we live in one of the richest, most techically advanced countries in the world, our reality is similar to an undeveloped, Third World country. We are a people who are truly seeking freedom and harmony.

All my life I have been a spiritual person. I first learned of the struggle and the sacrifice of Jesus in the segregated churches of the South. I converted to Catholicism as a young girl. In my adult life I have become a student of religion and have studied Christianity, Islam, Asian religions and the African religions of my ancestors. I have come to believe that God is universal in nature although called different names and with different faces. I believe that some people spell God with one “O” while others spell it with two.

What we call God is unimportant, as long as we do God’s work. There are those who want to see God’s wrath fall on the oppressed and not on the oppressors.I believe that the time has ended when slavery, colonialism, and oppression can be carried out in the name of religion. It was in the dungeons of prison that I felt the presence of God up close, and it has been my belief in God,and in the goodness of human beings that has helped me to survive. I am not ashamed of having been in prison, and I am certainly not ashamed of having been a political prisoner. I believe that Jesus was a political prisoner who was executed because he fought against the evils of the Roman Empire, because he fought the greed of the money changers in the temple, because he fought against the sins and injustices of his time. As a true child of God, Jesus spoke up for the poor, the meek, the sick, and the oppressed. The early Christians were thrown into lion dens. I will try and follow the example of so many who have stood up in the face of overwhelming oppression.

I am not writing to ask you to intercede on my behalf. I ask nothing for myself. I only ask you to examine the social reality of the United States and to speak out against the human rights violations that are taking place.

On this day, the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr., I am reminded of all those who gave their lives for freedom. Most of the people who five on this planet are still not free. I ask only that you continue to work and pray to end Oppression and political repression. It is my heartfelt belief that all the people on this earth deserve justice: social justice, political justice, and economic justice. I believe it is the only way that we will ever achieve peace and prosperity on earth. I hope that you enjoy your visit to Cuba. This is not a country that is rich in material wealth, but it is a country that is rich in human wealth, spiritual wealth and moral wealth.

Respectfully yours,

Assata Shakur

Havana, Cuba

A Letter Writing Night With SPS – Tuesday, Jan. 6th, 7pm

34images155

Join us on Tuesday, January 6th from 7-9 pm at the Coffee Garden(2904 Franklin Blvd, Sacto). We’ll be sending birthday cards to 6 political prisoners and a ‘We Support You’ card to 2 others to remind them that we are out here thinking of them. We’ll have plenty of cards that we can fill with individual notes from everyone. If there are other prisoners you’d like to write, we’ll have envelopes and paper for that, too.

Hope to see you there!

-Sacramento Prisoner Support

-Happy Birthday

Oscar Lopez Rivera(Jan. 6th) -Oscar Lopez Rivera is a Puerto Rican Independista and political prisoner serving 70 years for seditious conspiracy. He is the only remaining Independista remaining behind bars, the other eleven were granted clemency by President Clinton. prolibertadweb.org

Jeremey Hammond(Jan. 8th) – Jeremy Hammond is an anarchist computer hacker from Chicago. In November 2013, he was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison for leaking the personal information of 860,000 customers of private intelligence firm Strategic Forecasting (Stratfor) through the whistle-blowing website Wikileaks. This information revealed that Stratfor spies on activists, among others, at the behest of corporations and the U.S. government. freejeremy.net

Herman Bell(Jan.14th) – A member of the Black Panther Party and later the Black Liberation Army, Herman and his 2 codefendants were convicted in 1973 of killing 2 police officers. They are known as the New York 3. freehermanbell.org

Sundiata Acoli (Jan.14) – A New York Black Panther, Sundiata Acoli endured two years of prison awaiting trial for the Panther 21 Conspiracy Case. He and his comrades were eventually acquitted on all the bogus charges. The case was historic and was a classic example of the police and government attempting to neutralize organizations by incarcerating their leadership. As a result of this political attack and because of the immense pressure and surveillance from the FBI and local police, Sundiata, like many other Panther leaders went “underground”. On May 2, 1973, Sundiata Acoli, Assata Shakur and Zayd Shakur were ambushed and attacked by state troopers on the New Jersey Turnpike. Assata was wounded and Zayd was killed. During the gun battle a state trooper was shot and killed in self defense. Sundiata was tried in an environment of mass hysteria and convicted, although there was no credible evidence that he killed the trooper or had been involved in the shooting. He was sentenced to thirty years. sundiataacoli.org

Joseph Bowen(Jan. 15th) – “Joe-Joe” Bowen is a Black Liberation Army (BLA) Prisoner of War, serving two life sentences for the assassination of a prison warden and deputy warden, as well as an attempted prison break which resulted in a five-day standoff. thejerichomovement.com

Marius Mason(Jan. 26th) -Marius was sentenced to 22 years in federal prison in February of 2009 for two different arsons that were claimed by the ELF (Earth Liberation Front). Please take some time and check out supportmariemason.org

We Support You

Brent Betterly – Brent Betterly is one of the Nato 3 – 3 anarchists who were arrested in May of 2012 during the Nato protests in Chicago. They were clearly entrapped by an informant but at their trial they were convicted of an incendiary device charge that carries a maximum of 30 years. Brent was sentenced to 6 years in prison, but with credits for time served and other sentencing factors, he should be out some time next year. freethenato3.wordpress.com

Bomani Shakur – Ohio prosecutors allege that Keith Lamar was the leader of a group of prisoners dubbed “the death squad” and was responsible for ordering the deaths of five inmates during Ohio’s longest and bloodiest prison uprising, at Lucasville in 1993. Since the uprising he has taken the African name Bomani Shakur. Bomani Shakur has proclaimed his innocence. He reports that police beat him, left him naked in freezing conditions for long periods in cells without plumbing in order to make him confess to acts he didn’t commit and to get him to become a witness for the state. He encouraged other prisoners not to make false confessions or turn state’s evidence. He is now on death row as a part of the Lucasville Uprising. keithlamar.org