Monday 7/22 Letter-writing for Chuck and Del Africa

from Philly ABC

When: Monday, July 22nd, 6:30 pm

Where: A-Space

Charles Sims “Chuck” Africa and Delbert Orr Africa are two of the longest held political prisoners in the world, having been in prison for over 40 years. They are the last two of the MOVE 9, incarcerated since 1978, after a siege in Mantua by the Philly PD that led to the death of a cop. Despite eyewitness testimony and forensic evidence indicating the cop was likely shot by the police, 9 people, including Chuck and Del, were charged with aggravated murder and sentenced to 30-100 years. Merle and Phil died in prison under suspicious circumstances, and Debbie, Mike, Janet, Janine, and Eddie were paroled. Chuck has been battling cancer inside prison and is the next up for parole in November. Support for his parole can be easily expressed by signing the petition. Del is next up for parole in 2022, although that date is being appealed by his lawyer to make it sooner. While last year’s Running Down the Walls 5K supported MOVE 9 members in prison, this year’s on Sept 7th will provide post-release support.

History

MOVE is a group following the teachings of John Africa, which generally centered around the dual principles of black liberation and green anarchism. Almost since its inception, MOVE, and the members which comprise it, have been the target of some of the most brutal policing in the history of Philadelphia. Many of the major police incidents from the 70s and 80s targeted MOVE, including the siege and shootout of 1978, the arrest and imprisonment of Mumia Abu-Jamal, and, perhaps most notoriously, the aerial bombing of MOVE house by the Philadelphia Police in 1985. The MOVE lifestyle, along with their determination to defend it, have brought to the forefront many issues of social and racial inequality, and done so in ways that can’t be whitewashed, painted over, or ignored.

Chuck grew up in West Philly, joined MOVE in 1973, and is the brother of Debbie Africa, the first of the MOVE 9 to be released on parole last year. Delbert is originally from Chicago, and was a member of the Black Panther Party for several years before joining MOVE in 1970. During the 1978 siege, Del was brutally beaten by police after surrendering, the photos of which have become somewhat iconic images of the greater struggle.

As always, all the letter-writing supplies and light snacks will be provided. If you can’t join us, you can write to them at:

Smart Communications/PADOC – Charles Sims Africa #AM4975
SCI Dallas
P.O. Box 33028
St. Petersburg, FL 33733

Smart Communications/PADOC – Delbert Orr Africa #AM4985
SCI Dallas
P.O. Box 33028
St. Petersburg, FL 33733

We will also send birthday cards to U.S. political prisoners with birthdays in August: Eric King (the 1st), Bill Dunne (the 2nd), Hanif Bey (the 6th), Dr. Mutulu Shakur (the 7th), Little Feather Giron (the 14th), Russell Maroon Shoatz (the 22nd), Dr. Rafil Dhafir (the 24th), and Ronald Reed (the 30th).

Noise Demo Against Borders & to Remember Willem van Spronsen

Submission

Friday – July 19th – 8PM
Washington Square Park, 6th & Walnut
March & Noise Demo Against Borders & to Remember Willem van Spronsen
——–
Spread widely! Three fliers attached. Half-reluctant Facebook event here.
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“On July 13, Willem Van Spronsen was killed by police while apparently taking action to disable the fleet of buses that serve the Northwest Detention Center, a private immigration detainment facility.”
We hope to act to honor Will’s memory in solidarity with all those affected by the border regime – from the detention centers to the desert.
No Borders. No Prisons. No Cops.
Escalate.
Statement from Will’s friends:
https://pugetsoundanarchists.org/we-are-the-fire-that-will-melt-ice-rest-in-power-will-van-spronsen-olympia-wa/
https://crimethinc.com/2019/07/14/on-willem-van-spronsens-action-against-the-northwest-detention-center-in-tacoma-including-the-full-text-of-his-final-statement


Running Down The Walls

from Philly ABC

Download posters and flyers

September 7th, 2019
11 am sharp (Yoga warm-up at 10:30)
FDR Park

Philadelphia Anarchist Black Cross presents our second annual Running Down The Walls (RDTW)! This year’s event is dedicated to Never Give Up! – a project to free the remaining incarcerated members of the MOVE 9, and sustain their long-term post-release support. Following the release of his parents, Mike Africa Jr. founded Never Give Up to alleviate the financial strain of rebuilding life after decades of imprisonment. When his uncle Chuck Africa beat colon cancer, the project actively aligned with the broader, ongoing fight against cancer.

The Move organization has never given up. Not after their house was flooded, gassed, and riddled with bullets. Not after the police deployed explosives and let them burn alive. Not after the PADOC murdered Phil and Merle Africa.

After 40 years in prison and never giving up on their beliefs or each other, Debbie was released on parole on June 16th 2018, soon after followed by Mike Africa Sr. on October 23rd. Janet and Janine were released on May 25th, 2019 and then Eddie on June 21st. Chuck comes up for parole this November, and Delbert currently awaits the outcome of an appeal to secure his next hearing date.

As we are among their supporters, we too never give up! Philadelphia RDTW 2019 is dedicated to amplifying their voices, lifting them up in their struggles, and maintaining material post-release support. Join us for another revolutionary 5K run/walk/bike/skate and day of solidarity. If you would like to participate in light yoga and warm-up stretches before, please arrive around 10:15am. Bring a mat if you can! If you cannot make it to the event or would like to make an additional contribution, please sponsor a participant either outside prison or inside or one of each. Contact us for more information on sponsoring!

Proceeds will be split between the Warchest Program and the Never Give Up project. The ABCF Warchest program sends monthly stipends to Political Prisoners and Prisoners of War who have insufficient, little, or no financial support during their imprisonment.

Register for the 5K

Thanks for your support by running/walking/biking/skating the 5K! Everyone must fill out the following form to register NO LATER THAN AUGUST 24TH  so that you receive your official shirt the day of the event. The registration fee of $40 confirms your place at the event and it is preferred that this be paid before the day of the event by using the Seeds of Wisdom Patreon link below. Cash can also be accepted at the event. Additional funds over the $40 base fee raised through sponsorships are more than welcome (see our fundraising tips below).

Delaware Admits Failure, Drops Last Remaining Vaughn 17 Cases Retaliation Against Prisoners Continues

from Support the Vaughn 17

On Wednesday, June 12, Delaware announced it was dropping its last two cases against former Vaughn prisoners accused of participation in the 2017 prison takeover. Lawrence Michaels and Alejandro Rodriguez-Ortiz, whom the state claimed helped subdue correctional officers at the beginning of the takeover, will no longer be facing trial in the fall. The state also announced that it would not be retrying defendant Obadiah Miller, for whom the jury in a previous trial could not come to a decision about whether he had fought and stabbed the officer who later succumbed to his injuries. The other defendant against whom the jury had returned no decision charges on the assaults, John Bramble, had his remaining charges dropped in March. The charges cannot be brought back up.

The announcement is a major victory for all 16 remaining defendants, who chose to stick together and take their cases to trial in spite of extreme retaliatory abuse by the prisons, as well as the betrayal by one of the 18 indicted prisoners (Royal “Diamond” Downs), who was secretly working with the prosecution. Following the first trial, defendant Kelly Gibbs took a non-cooperating plea deal and later took his own life.

The defendants have worked non-stop since their indictment in fall 2017 to expose the lies on which the state has built its case, as well as the systemic abuse they’ve experienced leading up to the takeover and in retaliation. Two of the defendants who are serving life sentences, Jarreau Ayers (“Ruk”) and Dwayne Staats, sacrificed what chance they might have left of getting out of prison by testifying on behalf of the other defendants and taking responsibility for planning and carrying out aspects of the uprising.

Delaware’s announcement followed two trials in a row in which the state failed to obtain any convictions. The most recently exonerated defendant, Roman Shankaras, was released after his not guilty verdict on May 23. This past week, Rome gave damning interviews to the press that completely destroyed whatever credibility the state might have had left. The state’s decision also followed the release last week of a scathing letter written by Jarreau Ayers to mainstream press, which described the fallacies of the state’s case and the corporate media’s unapologetically biased coverage.

But retaliation continues against the defendants who are still on the other side of the fence. Despite having almost all been found not guilty or had their charges dropped, the state is continuing to punish ten of the defendants (Jarreau Ayers, Abednego Baynes, Kevin Berry, John Bramble, Deric Forney, Janiis Mathis, Obadiah Miller, Jonathan Rodriguez, Corey Smith, Dwayne Staats) who are now in Pennsylvania, where they are being held on lockdown indefinitely (via placement on PA’s Restricted Release List) on vague and questionable grounds. More than two years later, these prisoners are still being abused for staying in solidarity with one another against the state.

Shoutout to all the defendants and to all rebels inside and outside the prison walls! The struggle for liberation continues!

Graffiti for anarchist prisoners

from Instagram

Saw this rally of anarchist prisoner shout-outs yesterday, #june11, prefaced by “FREE THE ANARCHIST PRISONERS!”[not pictured: #billdunne]

June 11 Rundown

Submission

For June 11th anarchist solidarity in Philly took a few different forms. In the lead up to the 11th stickers and posters were put up. Graffiti for anarchist prisoners was written on the Grays Ferry Bridge.
On June 11th a BBQ fundraiser was held. Vegan food and copies of Fireant were given away and money was collected for anarchist prisoners and local anti-repression efforts.

Anarchist prisoners to the street 🙂

June 11, 2019 statement from Kevin Berry of the Vaughn17

from June 11th

Peace and solidarity to all the men and women that’s behind enemy lines, who continue to resist and rebel against this oppressive system we face everyday.

Also peace and solidarity to all the organizations who support us and fight for us non-stop. A special shout out to Philly, Pittsburgh and Chicago Anarchist Black Cross (ABC), D.C Crew, R.A.M NYC, Ghost Town Prisoner Support and two friends of mine T and N, without all of y’all the Vaughn17 supporters, none of the not guilty verdicts and the charges dismissed for the remaining comrades wouldn’t be possible. So thanks to y’all for being there for us, the non-stop work y’all put in and the non-stop pressure y’all put on DE DOC, PA DOC and the judicial system to make sure were always good. As y’all know the fight continues, we still have three comrades* that have to face a corrupt judicial system. So to all that read this support these brothers and go to their trials the more supports they have the better, so support the #Vaughn17.

Now to my June 11th statement. As I sit here in my cell and write this I really don’t know what to write right now. As I told friends of mine I don’t consider myself to be a anarchist. I wouldn’t put a label on what I do and stand for as a man. I’m just write how I feel and what’s on my mind and hopefully other brothers and sisters behind enemy lines feel the same way. I hate all authority figures (police, C.O’s, judge etc.) with a passion. Some may ask why? My answer to that is why not! These so called authority figures don’t do anything but oppress people mainly people of color, trans men and women, and homeless people, so that’s why I hate them. I want to touch on something else I am passionate about. The abolishment of all theses concentration camps (prisons). I am with the abolishment of theses concentration camps “By any means necessary” as Malcolm X once famously put it. ^^ But to do away with theses concentration camps it must first start with us, the men and women who are on these camps, who endure every form of oppression daily, may it be verbally, mentally, physically or sexually, we face it everyday by our oppressor! To see the abolishment of these camps we must resist and rebel against our oppressor. We speak of resistance all the time but know that “words with no actions is just talk”. It starts with us, and it’s time we stand for something or continue to fall for anything.
Fred Hampton
“Dare to struggle”
You dare to win

Peace to all
#Vaughn17 Kev

*At the time of publishing only two of the #Vaughn17 still face charges, Obediah Miller has recently had his case quietly dismissed! For information about the 17 and up to date addresses (including Kevin’s) visit vaughn17support.org

Smart communications/PA DOC
Kevin Berry #NT0583
SCI Benner Township
PO Box 33028
St Petersburg, FL 33733

When sending to Kevin keep in mind that since he has been transferred to Pennsylvania mail for him is sent to a processing facility in Florida where it is scanned electronically then emailed to the prison where it is printed.

No Convictions for Roman Shankaras!

from Support The Vaughn 17

Rome is the eighth defendant to be tried in this case, and the fifth to have now been cleared on all charges. Having been scheduled for release last year, he has now been released and is at home with his family.

Two more defendants, Lawrence Michaels (“Smoke”) and Alejandro Rodriguez-Ortiz (“Capo”) are still scheduled to be tried in October. One defendant from the second trial, Obadiah Miller (“OB”) is still waiting for the state to decide whether it will retry him. The other defendant in the second trial for whom the jury returned “no decision” verdicts for two charges, John Bramble (“Johnny”), had his remaining charges dropped for good in March.

After their failure to convict any defendants in the second trial, the state dropped their case against the other six defendants in March.

Monday, May 27th: Intro to Prisoner Letter-writing Event

from Philly ABC

Curious to write to prisoners, but not sure how to start or who to write to?

Join us for our monthly letter-writing event this month for an intro on how to get started and open discussion on political prisoners who might be seeking more mail or penpals. We will also be distributing our newly-printed Philly ABC guide to supporting political prisoners as a take-home reference, and sending birthday cards to political prisoners with birthdays in June: Matt DeHart (the 10th), Jay Chase (the 11th), and Tom Manning (the 27th).

We encourage folks who know of prisoners seeking more correspondence to come and spread the word to folks looking to write to people for the first time.

When: Monday, May 27th; 6:30-8:30pm
Where: A-Space, 4722 Baltimore Avenue

Snacks and letter-writing supplies provided!

Vaughn 17 Trial Begins for Roman Shankaras: Mastermind to Puppet Master, Depending On Who’s Describing Him

from Support the Vaughn 17

The third trial in Delaware’s prosecution of the Vaughn 17 began on Monday, May 6th, 2019. This time, Roman Shankaras is a solo defendant, fighting the same charges that fifteen of his co-defendants also faced — conspiracy, felony riot, assault, kidnapping, and murder — for allegedly participating in the February 2017 prisoner takeover of C-building at James T. Vaughn Correctional Center in Smyrna, Delaware (two additional prisoners were also indicted on the same charges except murder). What’s changed is that at this point, the state has been unable to successfully convict five of them, and subsequently dropped their case against another six defendants. Another co-defendant, Kelly Gibbs, died under suspicious circumstances after writing a dying confession to the murder that also named the state’s star rat, Royal “Diamond” Downs. The question is, why does the state continue to pursue a bunk case built on the lies of prison snitches?

In opening statements, we learned that the prosecution is relying on Delaware’s accomplice liability theory in order to convict Roman for the entire uprising. The state doesn’t have any physical evidence related to Roman, aside from two “kites” (prison notes) written from Roman to Royal Downs, who Roman had not known was already collaborating with the police. Although even the state acknowledges that Roman never held a weapon and remained in his cell the whole time, they are trying to hold him responsible for everything that happened during the uprising — including the death of a cop — by alleging that he helped plan the takeover.

So far the prosecution has called in various police investigators and correctional officers to testify against Roman, but the only witness who claimed to identify him was Royal Downs. For anyone who has been following the trials, his lies this time clashed significantly from his previous testimony. Multiple times he identified another defendant, Lawrence Michaels (a.k.a. Smoke), as doing things in the takeover that, during the first trial, he testified to seeing Jarreau Ayers (Ruk) do. The coincidence is not lost that Michaels never had his charges dropped, and his trial is scheduled for October 2019.

Downs also previously claimed to have smuggled the kites out in a visit with his sister, and he is now testifying that he mailed it out in a card. He is no longer claiming for the jury’s benefit that testifying is the hardest thing he’s ever had to do and that given the chance he wouldn’t do it again, after that strategy failed under cross-examination in both the previous trials.

So far media has been silent on the major fallacies and inconsistencies of the case, attempting instead to rile up the public by reporting on new evidence recently found at Vaughn, which is irrelevant to this case.

Meanwhile, for the first time over the course of the three trials in which they’ve testified, both Lieutenant Charles Sennett and Detective David Weaver cried (obviously fake) tears while on the stand in order to influence the jury. The state is desperate, and this time they are resorting to tactics of red herring evidence and emotional play in addition to outright lies.

The state argues that the two kites show that Roman helped orchestrate the prison takeover and that therefore he is legally responsible for everything else that happened during it. So far, Diamond has testified that other Vaughn 17 defendants who’ve said they helped plan the takeover — Dwayne Staats and Jarreau Ayers — were in Roman’s cell during the uprising and consulted with Roman, Lawrence Michaels, and several others to make key decisions. On Wednesday, Diamond characterized Roman as the uprising’s “puppet master,” but the details of Diamond’s testimony indicate that major decisions about hostage negotiations were made spontaneously over the radio by Diamond and Staats in a different room, not in Roman’s cell.

Moreover, the state’s interpretation of the letters themselves is in question. In his opening statement, Roman’s lawyer — Patrick Collins — noted that, as we’ve heard in previous trials, what was planned for February 1, 2017, depends on who you talk to. Some inmates planned to stay in the yard as a nonviolent protest, while Diamond says he’d learned there would be a takeover but that he never heard that violence would be involved. Another plan was a coordinated violent takeover. But it’s still uncertain which prisoners intended to participate in which plan.

This means that the state would first have to prove that Roman’s letters unequivocally show that he helped plan a takeover of C-Building, as opposed to a nonviolent protest, and then also prove that Roman intended the takeover to be violent. In the language of Delaware’s accomplice liability law, they would have to show that Roman planned to commit an “unlawful act” with others in which the assaults, murder and kidnapping was “reasonably foreseeable” as a possible outcome, even if he never personally held a weapon. It is unclear how the state would decisively prove this based on Roman’s letters and the snitch testimony they’ve presented so far — which is supposed to be the strongest part of their case. As Collins pointed out, under the standard of reasonable doubt, even the jury thinking Roman is “probably guilty” is not enough to return a guilty verdict.

The state’s entire case against the Vaughn 17 has been based on snitch testimony, and it’s important to note that the two kites that the state is presenting as hard physical evidence in this case were written in communication with a snitch. In cross-examination, the defense has already established Diamond’s extensive influence in the prison as someone with time, and these letters seem to be a sting set-up.

So far, the state has failed to secure any convictions in its entire case against the Vaughn 17 except for what the defendants personally attested to having done. In the fall, Dwayne Staats was found guilty on all charges but intentional murder after he explained to the court that he had helped plan the uprising, knowing it could turn violent. Jarreau Ayers, also serving a life sentence, was found guilty of conspiracy, riot, kidnapping and assault based on his own testimony that he helped facilitate the takeover once it began. Deric Forney (called Twin) maintained his innocence and was found not guilty.

Following the second trial, in which all four defendants maintained their innocence, the jury found Abednego Baynes and Kevin Berry not guilty on all charges and came to no decision on a few final charges for John Bramble and Obadiah Miller, effectively acquitting them as well. The state has since quietly dropped those final charges for good.

After the second trial, the state also dropped most of the remaining defendants’ cases. Lawrence Michaels and Alejandro Rodriguez-Ortiz are still facing trial in October of this year.

Having completed his sentence soon after the uprising, Roman should have already been released from prison. Instead he is still being held on $2.8 million cash bail pending the outcome of this trial.

The seven Vaughn defendants who have already stood trial, along with an additional four whose charges were dropped, have since been moved to different prisons in Pennsylvania. After more than two years of state retaliation and abuse, they are all still being held in solitary and denied privileges, despite almost all having been exonerated by Delaware’s so-called justice system.

Roman’s trial will resume on Monday, May 13, at 9:45am in Room 8B of New Castle County Courthouse in Wilmington and will be in session every day for the rest of this coming week except Wednesday, May 15th. Court support is welcome and encouraged!

For more information on the Vaughn 17.