Solidarity and greetings to you all! Thank you for coming together to celebrate our respected comrade’s regained freedom, as well as the many transitions that have taken place this past year. First and foremost, I’d like to wish both Eric and Jenny every possible happiness, and to express how grateful I am to their dedicated and capable legal team. This kind of victory should be savored and taken to heart as a lesson in solidarity and perseverance. While it’s a travesty that Eric lost 9 ½ years of his life unjustly, still, despite a social climate of hysteria and hype over domestic terrorism, our movement was able to come together to support Eric and to keep fighting until he was returned to his family and loved ones. We have to be in this struggle for the long haul, but this important win proves that we can make change when we remain committed.
But our solidarity work cannot end here, as reentry is a difficult process for any prisoner returning to the free world. We should make every effort to support Eric’s transition back into society, to help him get the education and training he needs to live a decent life (as he so well deserves). He has earned our help, support and gratitude with his life’s work and his integrity. I know that I am grateful for his work defending this Earth and for promoting compassion through veganism.
I’d also like to take this opportunity to acknowledge and thank everyone who has written a card or a letter, sent a song, a photo, or an article to me this year. It’s a constant regret of mine that it’s not possible to write back to everyone (though I do try to add folks to the contact list whenever I can). But I want to step up my efforts at staying in contact, as well as to thank folks for the many books I receive. Look for a new post once a month on the support website that will focus on book reviews, current events and poetry and paintings.
I’m happy to announce that with the cooperation of The Base and other community bookstores, and my dear friend Letha, the books that have been sent here (and have been shared around) will we sent on to a new round of sharing in the free world. I’m really, really glad to have this opportunity to spread this wealth around. The library at the prison here would no longer accept donations, so this was an excellent way to save these great books from the dumpster.
This year has been my hardest yet in prison. As the years go on, it gets harder to maintain important friendships, to keep up with the changes in my (now grown) children’s’ lives. I’m far from home, and visits are hard to set up and expensive. Incarceration unweaves the fabric of all families, and mine is no exception. My mother, Karin Mason, passed from cancer in December 2014. Her illness was sudden and intense. While I will always be grateful that my sister could care for her at home for hospice, it was really painful to be separated and barely able to be in contact during her weeks in hospice. My grief at her loss incapacitated me for quite a while. Many, many thanks to those who sent their sympathy and comfort during this time. Your kindness meant a great deal to me.
This has also been a challenging year because of my decision to transition, publicly, as male-identified. I can out to family first in the spring of last year. I feel incredibly fortunate that my family has maintained their loving connection with me. This is a gift of love and I know it. Coming out to friends over the next few months was awkward at times – laughter being a pretty common response – but went well, all in all. Coming out on the Unit was harder, as there was some social fall-out, and there still is some. In August, 2014, I finally spoke to the Warden to request medical help with transitioning. Warden Upton’s response was, and has consistently been, to be humane and to be in positive compliance with the BOP’s new policy. This is also very fortunate, and from reading in Prison Legal News, kind of unusual as a response.
So far, I have gone through the psychological interviewing process to get an official diagnosis of gender dysphoria and to have begun the medical screening process for future access to hormone therapy. I am requesting compete SRS, but right now it is unclear as to what medical procedures are permitted under the new policy. I’m trying to stay persistent and positive. Though I cannot at this point legally change my name in Texas (which is awkward) still the BOP has allowed mail addressed in my chosen name to be delivered to me (as long as it has my register number and last name)*. I have been issued boxers now, as part of my transition process – which feels like a small victory, a tangible sign of things changing.
I want to acknowledge all of the work, struggle, and sacrifice that other transfolk have made before me. I can’t tell you how sad I was that Leslie Feinberg passed. We lost them too soon. I know that whatever human rights I now enjoy were dearly bought, and I am grateful. I’d like to specifically thank the folks at Black and Pink for their publication. Several folks here get it, and it has made talking about my situation much, much easier.
I also want to thank all of the wonderful folks who wrote to pass on their wishes of support for my transition process. Though things have changed a lot since the mid90s when I had first wanted to come out, still social concepts always move at a glacial pace, and for much of society; gender, orientation, and race remain contested terrain. We still have a lot of work to do, but it can be done.
In conclusion, I have to end with a special shout out to my very own hero this year. What my advocate and friend, Moira Meltzer-Cohen, has done for me is nothing short of saving my life. Thank you, Moira, for believing in me, for getting me through the worst moments, and for patiently showing me the real power of solidarity. There are no works adequate to express my admiration, gratitude, and respect. Thank you all for being there for me – trust and believe that I’m in here for you. Love and solidarity, Forever.
M Mason #04672-061
Federal Medical Center
P.O. Box 27137
Fort Worth, TX 76127
From the Cages: Statement from Krow after bail jumping charges dropped
High Fives and hugs to all fellow defenders of the land/bioregions out there and Happy June 11-the two year anniversary of the raid on the Penokee mine site which I’m currently incarcerated for, as well as International Solidarity with eco-prisoners Day. A continued decline of taconite (low grade iron ore) in conjunction with continued resistance to industrial mining in the Ojiibwe territory of the northwest Great Lakes Bio region in Wisconsin will keep air, land and water colonialists at bay for now, but there’s constantly wild to defend and re wilding to do around every corner. As the word “resources” in this context connotes pretentious anthropomorphism, I will continue to refer to miners as “air, land and water colonialists”
There’s always so much happening and so many things to say and not say, so let’s start with the fun and obvious one: Fuck the State, the FBI, the NSA, more often than not the DNR, state repression, oppression of all kinds, snitches, police and all their lackey affiliates, liberal reformists, modern day work, many symbolic actions, pacifism and finally fuck totalitarian style agriculture and all that it supports, such as the military and endless urban and industrial expansion of western consumer culture. May creative resistance to eco-cide continue and the fires against police brutality rage on, as the first line of resistance against our resistance is usually the cops.
That being said, though I am making the most of my current situation, I despise being caged and feel deeply for all my rad comrades who have endured or continue to endure prison/jail sentences, as it can be a lonely place emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually. I was an anti-domestication advocate prior to incarceration and even more so now because of it. We must not forget our comrades in lock up, as prisoner/jaillee support pre and post release is of the utmost importance, having advocates in the relatively free world makes a big difference for the wellness of those in lock up. I want to extend a big heartfelt thanks to all who’ve written and supported me the past five months, as three of those were spent confined to the indoors. Utilize your “freedom” to keep up the fight, let’s work towards a future where jails and prisons are abolished.
Though I disdain pacifying tools and techniques utilized by these institutions, such as television, unless all prisons and jails burn down tomorrow, we need to advocate for jails to be required to offer outdoor time to all inmates (it’s already mandated in prisons) and also offer a more diverse and healthy selection of foods. Ex inmate congrats on your release! Eric Mc David suffered pericardins from being denied his request for vegan food (thus his denying of the “stock” food) and folks such as my old cellmate developed a diagnosed thyroid disorder from a vitamin D deficiency, stemming from a lack of adequate outdoor exposure to the sun. WTF?
As I never want to see any of my fellow comrades incarcerated and and we want to strive to be as effective as possible, not just symbolic, we need to be more creative than the average “lock down.” What the rad cats in the Mattiole forest had going on last summer in the coastal “Nor Cal” bioregion was rad as fuck and we could all learn something from it.
A lot of us have also left the full time traditional workforce long ago to make a better and more productive use of our skills, time, happiness, thus are constantly diabolically opposed to many counselors, lawyers and programs that aim to “get us back on our feet.” Utilizing our personal agency as individuals-and as a collective to resist financial and “work” entrapment putting a damper on our greater resistance efforts is always something to improve upon as well.
Getting back to issues regarding “Corrections” institutions, it should be noted that while communication and media exposure are monitored and often censored, correspondence between myself and other inmates in regards to the Uprisings in Baltimore, oil spill around Santa Barbara and blockade of the Port of Seattle have been stifled, if not shut down completely by the prison systems. I’ve received five “return to sender” letters, three from Wisconsin, one from Texas and one from an Oregonian correctional institution stating that the content of of letters was “not” approved inmate to inmate communication or “potentially elicits illegal activity or violence.” It’s clear that “authorities” prefer inmates to remain in the dark and not organize those or any issues. All of my correspondence that was denied delivery thus far, happened to be addressed to black prisoners whom I will continue to attempt to correspond with. If people do no understand why we should be organized/raging against the police and furthermore do not understand why the “Black Lives Matter” campaign has gained so much momentum, they serve as reminder about how much decolonization there is yet to be done and how many privileged ideas there is left to smash.
I have a new found respect for anyone who has attempted to organize themselves or other inmates, as the stakes are high-your freedom and aspects of it. Various forms of repression can be bestowed upon you, i.e. solitary confinement, loss of various “privileges” communication declination, and sometimes people on the outside cannot find out easily. My outdoor privileges were revoked for three weeks just for verbally defending my cell mate.
At any rate I could go on and on, so instead I will make a list of messages, points, and preferences I want to drive home in no particular order.
You don’t have to travel to find something to fight for or against. Evil roads, evil farms, industrial projects and spaces to defend or re wild exist in your respective bio region.
Foraging (urban and wild) permaculture and re wilding NOT farming of any kind or totalitarianism over the land.
Defenders of bio regions NOT Activists.
Comrades and Accomplices NOT “allies”
Struggles NOT Movements
Effectiveness over Symbolism
Multiple insurrections NOT singular revolutions
Don’t trust liberals as far as you can throw them; I am incarcerated partially because due to the misguided and self important actions inadvertently made by liberal snitches and I want to share this because I want people to learn from my experience.
All of our struggles are connected but it doesn’t always make sense to combine them; diversity and diverse execution of tactics should be recognized and respected.
“Elders” are folks who have earned the title, not all advice is wise advice and everyone is subject to critique.
Tell the IWW that industry, regardless of whether it’s owned and operated by a ‘liberated” work force or not, only feeds further oppression of the land and people and perpetuates destructive consumer culture…In the meantime “general strikes” can still be very effective but we should be working towards exchanging the concept of work with “productive play” and abolishing industry altogether.
Call out sexual assault, sexual harassment and all forms of oppression with more confidence. Some of the conduct that transpired at the original Penokee Harvest Camp should have been called out sooner. Though it can be painful speaking up always opens up opportunities to create safer spaces sooner than later.
There’s a proposal circulating to form a more cohesive “national” forest/ecological defense network based on non compromising bio centric ideals…I think it’s a rad idea and I hope it gets discussed and explored at the 2015 EF Rondy.
Lastly, if anyone’s interested, some comrades and myself have been working on- a multi tiered fundraiser for some stellar projects and my legal fees that breaks down like this:
40% for my legal fees and some envelopes for correspondence
40% for the Womyn Warrior Project we’ve been working on which entails utilizing resources for forest/ecological defense in the northwest Great Lakes bio region.
Finish the “The Ethnobotany of the Penokee Hills” zine and host a “womyn” oriented (queer and trans inclusive) rad gathering in the spring in the northwest Great Lakes bio region (time and local TBA).
10% for production and distribution of Earth First Journal.
10% to the non religious house less shelter project in Ashland Wisconsin.
Please see penokeedefenders.wordpress.com for more info.
As of June 30 I am the only female bodied inmate at the Iron County jail I also still have an appeal pending, but my alleged bail jumping for supposedly being on “GTAC” land while on bond was recently dropped to a trespassing forfeiture and fine, less than a misdemeanor, with an additional 100 hours of community service tacked on to my current sentence.
Thanks so, so, so, so, so, so, much for being supportive of me and continuing the struggle for the wild.
Love, Rage and Wildness
Krow (Katie Kloth)
[You can write Krow at:
Iron County Jail
300 Taconite Street
Hurley, WI 54534]
Sean Swain’s statement for the June 11th Day of Solidarity with Long Term Anarchist & Eco Prisoners, 2015
More info on his case can be found at seanswain.org and more details about June 11th can be found at june11.org
“My name is Sean Swain and I’m speaking to you from a payphone at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville Ohio, the site of the longest prisoner uprising in US history*. I currently reside in the block where that uprising began, L5 and my cell still has the scorch marks on the walls from more than twenty years ago. I think the authorities leave the burn marks to remind all of us prisoners that they won.
But, when I see those burn marks on their walls, I only think of possibilities. I have to warn you before we go any further that I am a “unique security threat”. It was a federal court who recently gave me that designation: “unique security threat” using those exact words.
I’m not just your run-of-the-mill maximum security prisoner, I’m a special category of prisoner who may be subjected to a regimen of restrictions without so much as being accused of violating prison rules. I’m such a unique threat that my communications can be subject to a lifetime ban in anticipation of what I might say about the state terrorists who hold me hostage and occasionally torture me.
Also, you should know that the Fascist Bozos of Ineptitude (FBI) generated 1,297 pages of investigative files on me during the course of my imprisonment. I’m one of my favorite topics, and I write about myself quite frequently, but I can’t think of 1,297 pages to write about me.
So that means the FBI knows more about me that I do. My file is available from the FBI as a three-disk set that costs $40. That’s roughly the same as the Sex Pistol’s box set. If ever you have a choice between the two, I would suggest you can’t go wrong with the Sex Pistols.
But, I digress. My point of course is that I’m a unique security threat, and I’m a unique security threat not for what I do with my fists and my feet, because the fascist police state has easy methods for containing those. I’m a unique security threat for what I do with my head. My thoughts, my ideas, the things I articulate, those are the things that make me a unique security threat, because the fascist police have found thoughts and ideas harder to contain than fists a feet.
Also it’s important to point out, I think, that the fascist police state isn’t concerned so much with my communication of ideas to fellow prisoners. I don’t use these monitored communications systems to communicate to prisoners. I use them to communicate with you.
So, look, here’s my agenda. I have to find a way to stop being a unique security threat in order to lesson my odds of getting tortured again. I have to stop being a unique security threat in order to get home to hug my elderly parents. Being a unique security threat makes me vulnerable to repression by state terrorists. My uniqueness makes me a singular target. They can focus the full force of their terror operation on me.
My fear and dread of facing potential torture in the future compels me to find some way to stop being unique in the present. If only I can find a way to inspire and persuade others, like you perhaps to become security threats, either equal to the threat I pose, or superior to the threat I pose, I would stop
being a unique security threat. I would just be one of hundreds or one of thousands, or even one of tens of thousands of ubiquitous security threats.
So that’s my agenda. To create ubiquitous security threats. Thousands with thoughts and ideas just as dangerous as my own. That’s what I have to do to avoid getting tortured again.
That’s quite a daunting mission isn’t it? I hope I’m up to it.
If I succeed, at the very least, state terrorists will have their hands so full dealing with all of you security threats that they’ll forget about me and leave me alone. Best case scenario: their entire power structure will collapse, the nightmare will end and we can all go back to living in ways that make sense, absent the oppressor.
So, if the state terror asshole with the headphones monitoring this communication is distracted by his donuts and coffee and doesn’t hit the kill switch, I’m going to share some ideas and thoughts to hopefully create ubiquitous security threats out of you. I hope you’re down with that.
I think the process of creating ubiquitous security threats should begin with an observation. Information is power. Kind of a no brainier, as far as observations go, huh?
Yeah, information is power. That’s why they’ve got security cameras everywhere. That’s why they click through all of your emails. That’s why a dozen government agencies have a digital recording of your call before you ever even hear it. Information is power and your enemy, my enemy, our enemy is constantly collecting information.
So, what do we know about them?
Information is power. Now, I’m going to be talking about the prison industrial complex specifically, and the state terrorists who run it, but what I’m saying really applies universally to all the institutions of the fascist police state. And really, to the corporate profiteers who pull the strings. So really, what I’m proposing has a vast array of broad applications.
But, back to our question: what do we know about them? If you’re a prison abolitionist, or if you’re a prisoner rights advocate, wherever you’re from, do you know where the prisons are physically located? That’s pretty easy to find out. It’s public information. Now, those prisons have parking lots. Those parking lots contain the vehicles of prison workers, guards, staff, administrators.
Often the Warden’s spot is marked with a sign that says “Warden”.
All of those cars are located in a public parking lot. Whoever you are, you can drive right in. At shift change, for instance you’d witness two shifts of prison workers coming and going. Do you have a cell phone camera? Almost everyone these days has a cell phone camera. Faces.
License plates. With a plate number and a friend at the Bureau of Motor vehicles you can obtain home addresses and all kinds of information.
If you don’t have a friend at the Bureau of Motor Vehicles you can wait in a lot down the street, pull into traffic and follow people home.
Information is power.
The same goes for administrators in the Central Office of any state prisons system. Their parking lots are not located in some alternate universe. These people who employ torture are parked right there. They drive home to spouses and kids and family dogs. They work for a terrorist state that collects information on you. What are you doing to collect information on them?
I can tell you right now for an absolute fact that what I’m proposing to you is the state terrorists’ worst nightmare. They torture their captives. They tortured me, knowing they would never be held accountable by their fascist supervisors or their oversight committees or by media investigations, or federal courts. All the institutions of the fascist police state are accomplices in their crimes against humanity. In fact the instance of torture and continuation of state terror occur in the confidence that no one will do anything about it. Their arrogance so far is well founded.
I recall during the year of prolonged torture at Mansfield Correctional the day that my cell mate Black Jack stood up and passed out. He hit the floor. We had suffered starvation rations for months, had each lost roughly 30% of our body weight, and Black Jack passed out due to malnutrition. That was the day I became convinced that we might actually die. Our captors might actually kill us.
I had a website of updates. I had written letters to the legislative oversight committees. I had a lawyer protesting my treatment. I had hundreds writing letters and making calls and I was convinced that none of that would change conditions. That Black Jack and I might die despite ALL of that.
Now, to contrast, just as a matter of practicality, I urge you to imagine what would have happened to our conditions, if instead of letters and calls to lawyers and online updates if one, just one of the state terrorists involved in the terror program would have gotten up for work one morning and stepped out of his or her tasteful suburban home to find his or her car ablaze with SeanSwain.org spray painted across the cracked windshield.
I’m not sure, but I bet just that single event would have gotten Black Jack and me an extra scoop of potatoes at lunch. If not, there are always other nights and other cars.
Now, sure there’s a degree of risk for those involved and that risk varies according to the planning and execution. Also keep in mind we’re not talking about a risk taken to rectify one instance of mistreatment. We’re talking about an action that would alter the operation of the terror complex completely.
Now, if something like that had happened in response to Black Jack’s and my torture—it didn’t, so this is just a theoretical pondering—but if something like that had happened, the state could only put squad cars at the residences of state terrorists for a short time. In Ohio, for example, there are something like 30 prisons. That equals 30 wardens, 30 majors, 90 deputy wardens, hundreds of captains and lieutenants and captains and sergeants and guards, too many to dedicate squad cars for protection of their homes night after night indefinitely. They couldn’t possibly be protected from a ubiquitous security threat, so chances are they would have changed their low-down ways. State terrorists would realize there would be direct and serious consequences for torturing their captives, as their should be.
It really boils down to a kind of operant conditioning. If you torture us, we’ll light your cars and houses on fire. If you stop, we’ll stop. It’s a consequence of the operant conditioning. You get the behavior you’re looking for, whether it’s an end to torture, or an end to the prison complex entirely.
It would be preferable of course if you could simply ask rationally, perhaps through a grievance process or correspondence to a legislative committee, or through civil litigation in federal court, but non violent appeals to reason and fairness are a completely foreign language to hierarchs. You may as well be speaking Portuguese.
So to change anything you have to let cans of gasoline be your verbs and let matches be your nouns. It’s unfortunate, but it’s true.
Soon there’ll be a website online that posts profiles of state terrorists along with message boards where visitors to the site can leave anonymous comments, including perhaps information about each of the profiled state terrorists. Information is power.
I think I’ll stop there. When this monitored call is over I’ll go back to my cell with the scorch marks covering the walls and I’ll think of the possibilities. This is anarchist prisoner Sean Swain from the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville. If you’re listening, you are the resistance.
* The Lucasville Uprising in 1993 was not the longest prison uprising in US, history, it was the longest in which people died.”