June 11, 2015 : TRANSITION : The struggle’s not over…

The last year has been full of changes and transitions for our
imprisoned comrades and for those of us engaged in struggle on the other
side of the walls. Now, solidly in the throes of spring, we feel
compelled to celebrate these transitions and victories as new life and
energy burst forth all around us. It is not often that we get a chance
to truly mix celebration and struggle – but now is one of those times!
On January 8^th of this year the Eastern District Court of California
ordered Eric McDavid released from prison. Our comrade Marius came out
publicly as a man and began seeking resources for his physical
transition. We believe these are both transitions worthy of celebration
and reason for continued struggle. It is in this spirit that we bring
you our thoughts about J11 2015.

First, a bit of housekeeping: We have a new email address: june11th at
riseup dot net!  If you sent something to the old address, it is likely
we did not receive it. We would love it if there were many translations
of this callout and other support materials (many thanks to ContraInfo
and others for supporting translation over the years)! Please send
information about the June 11th events you are planning this year,
posters, zines, and any report backs to june11th at riseup dot net.  We
are looking forward to hearing from you and will post events as we
receive them at June11.org <http://June11.org> Every year events happen
in new cities, and we hope you’ll encourage your friends and comrades
far and wide to join us this year.

This day is an annual day of solidarity with long-term anarchist
prisoners, including Marius Mason and Eric McDavid. In calling for the
day, we aim to deepen ongoing support for comrades facing long
sentences. They, in particular, risk being forgotten within a prisoner
support model based on reacting to spikes in state repression and other
emergencies. We are committed to building a model of solidarity that is
both long-term and capable of flexibly responding to new developments.
It is also vital to constantly build new links of solidarity between
prisoners and between struggles, rather than fall back on static
networks of personal links and contacts.

Originating as a day of solidarity for eco-prisoners, J11 remains
anchored in a project of ecological defense and struggle against a
society based on exploitation and confinement. As the focus shifted to
solidarity with Marius and Eric, two eco-anarchist prisoners serving
roughly 20-year sentences, people have expressed their solidarity
through letter-writing nights, fundraisers, educational events,
demonstrations and attacks. Any real effort to aid prisoners cannot be
based simply on passive support, but must also include a commitment to
build on their struggles before and after their imprisonment. More
explanation about the context for and strategy of June 11th can be found
here: http://june11.org/about/

Last year, while organizing J11 events, we addressed challenging
questions about the relationship between ecologically oriented struggles
and anarchist anti-prison struggles. It is clear to us that the world
which requires prisons also requires the destruction of the environment;
as anarchists, we despise both. We are heartened by the growing
movements against the tar sands, LNG pipelines, fracking and the myriad
other ecologically destructive projects. The escalation of eco-struggles
across the globe is both necessary and exciting. Both Marius and Eric
remain committed to these struggles, as we remain committed to them, all
eco-prisoners, and the struggles that they all – we all – are engaged
in. But this year we have been given cause for celebration – and we
would like to emphasize that as we move forward.

This year Marius Mason publicly shared his new name and use of male
pronouns that better reflect his masculine gender identity. To quote his
lawyer, Moira Meltzer-Cohen who is assisting with the legal aspects of
his transition, Marius is someone “whose courage and integrity are made
even more salient by the fact that his own liberation and autonomy have
long been severely circumscribed.” In the face of a world that
systematically subjects trans people to violence, isolation and abuse,
we hope that everyone shows their support of trans liberation by
supporting Marius and the many imprisoned trans folks. This struggle
should extend beyond mere fundraising. Trans prisoners are struggling
not only for the material necessities of existence, but are also
struggling against systems of domination which will stop at nothing to
prevent them from simply being who they are. Our solidarity needs to be
as creative and varied as the state’s tactics are cruel and oppressive.

On January 8th of this year, Eric McDavid was released from prison after
nine years of incarceration. Eric returned home to his friends and
family after a federal court granted his habeus corpus petition, stating
that the FBI withheld evidence during the trial phase of his case.
Because of this, Eric was able to plead guilty to a lesser charge which
carried a five year maximum sentence – four years less than the time he
had already served in federal prison. Eric’s incredible determination
and the awe-inspiring support from his family, friends and comrades have
not only contributed to his emotional and physical well-being while
behind bars but also to his eventual release. His release from prison
after 9 years is a monumental change. Eric is now faced with building a
new life after almost a decade of incarceration. This is a new phase of
struggle for him, and we are committed to continuing our solidarity with
him post-release.

We face new questions about how to help Eric during this transition from
a heavily controlled prison environment to a life in the open prison
(the conditions that overlap between Eric’s parole and the society of
control in which we all live). Although he is no longer living his life
in a cage of concrete and razor wire, Eric still constantly faces the
repressive apparatus of the state. His movements are restricted, his
communications monitored, and his time is spent in ways that aren’t
always of his choosing. All of this limits his interactions with the
communities he has been away from for so long, the communities he wishes
to engage with and be a part of. We must figure out how to lessen the
impacts of these kinds of restrictions and how to enable as smooth a
transition and homecoming as possible. We are thrilled to be facing
these questions nine years earlier than we’d expected.

The focus of June 11th events this year will continue to include Eric by
aiding him materially and emotionally during this transition and
maintaining channels for political engagement concerning Eric’s
entrapment. Eric’s case remains one of the most obvious examples of the
state targeting and entrapping anarchists in this country. But we must
always remember that his case is in no way exceptional. Muslim
communities have borne the brunt of these kinds of attacks from the FBI.
We should always be finding ways to work in solidarity. Post release
support is a vital component to our struggle, and we’re obviously
thrilled beyond words that Eric can walk and talk among friends and
Earth according to his own desires again, and with every step we affirm
that we want the destruction of all prisons.

The practices of ongoing solidarity should not solely serve as a
soothing cultural custom: our actions carry potential for real material
consequences – both positive and negative – for our imprisoned comrades.
As we practice solidarity with imprisoned comrades and loved ones, our
goal goes beyond simply supporting them; we aim to build social momentum
against an entire system of domination and ecological destruction. These
linkages add significance to all our gestures of solidarity, rendering
them more potent tools on behalf of those inside, but also increasing
the risks should these gestures be miscalculated or imprecise: as
always, exercise care and sharp analysis when laying plans.

This reflection applies to the entire range of support projects,
including fundraising. We hope though, that fundraisers also create
spaces for discussion and struggle. A common anxiety among comrades
facing long sentences is whether there will still be subversive projects
and conversations underway when they get out. It’s up to all of us to
make sure that there are, and that these projects and conversations are
stronger, richer, and more vital. And it’s everyone’s letters to
prisoners that ensure their ongoing connection to this process.

A specific element of this process is building our capacity for ongoing
prisoner support. There have been both victories and setbacks over the
past year as anarchist and other rebellious prisoners have waged
struggles against their conditions, including both hunger and work
strikes. Nikos Romanos’ hunger strike and the accompanying revolutionary
solidarity reminded us of the subversive possibility of struggles
coordinated across prison walls. But as anarchist prisoners, like Sean
Swain in Ohio or Michael Kimble in Alabama, increasingly conduct similar
fights in North America, the movement has frequently lacked the
connections or strength required to offer meaningful solidarity. This is
not a criticism of the dedicated support crews working with these rebel
prisoners, but is directed to the rest of us, indicating the importance
of generalizing active forms of solidarity with prisoners.

An important aspect of the long-term project of prisoner solidarity is
maintaining old connections while building new connections with other
prisoners in struggle. Recently released comrades Amelie and Fallon
encompassed this idea well in their February open letter

Generalizing solidarity means escaping the space of the small “activist
scene” to allow surprising new relationships to form. Part of our
proposal this year is to build stronger relations of solidarity with
trans prisoners in struggle, both to offer immediate personal and
political support, and to prepare to offer more meaningful aid in future
struggles for safety, hormones/other medical resources, and dignity.
http://supportmariusmason.org/2014/07/07/free-marius-jacob-mason/ We
were inspired by Chelsea Manning, who won access to hormones despite
very adverse conditions, dramatically indicating the possibility of
future victories for other trans prisoners.

We will continue to adapt to a changing landscape produced both by the
victories won by our imprisoned comrades – including Eric’s release,
Marius’ coming out, Nikos Romanos’ seizure of “room to breathe,” and
just in the past few days, the amazing homecoming of Amelie, Carlos, and
Fallon, — and by ongoing transformations of the repressive machinery.
These transitions mark the expansion of the project and not any sort of
stopping point.

“The struggle is not over … it assumes new forms. No matter what its
face, no matter what the time, it’s still war.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s