Four More Bravely Stare Down State’s Fixation On Retribution For 2017 Smyrna Prison Uprising

from Support the Vaughn 17

Wilmington, DE

“Prison is not somewhere people aspire to spend their lives,” Delaware assistant attorney general Nichole Warner told us as she opened the state’s case against Kevin Berry, John Bramble, Abednego Baynes and Obadiah Miller. These four individuals, like those who were tried before them, know this fact all too well given the repression they have faced before and after the events of February 2017. And so, once again we bear witness and offer support however we can- by writing letters, by showing up in court, by raising money, by making time to listen, by lifting up voices for human dignity!

Speaking about February 1, 2017- AG Warner described “a day unlike any other, that not all would live to regret,” when prisoners seized control of C building at James T. Vaughn Correctional Facility, and held it for nearly a day. She spoke of the uprising in terms of terror and criminal responsibility, underscoring the state’s method of dealing with issues by making people pay, instead of taking even modest steps to correct dire problems. It was evident from the previous trial, where no service was given to the vicious, coordinated and planned machinations of prison (and the devastating impacts this causes to people and families), but rather, a singular desire on the part of the state to identify, isolate, and punish several individuals for the collective failure of a brutal, racist system to protect even its own enforcers, such as the late Sergeant Steven Floyd.

Cautions came in opening arguments from defense attorneys for each of the comrades currently facing trial, focusing on Delaware’s accomplice liability statutes and the state’s emphasis on circumstantial evidence. Cleon Cauley for Abednego Baynes noted that “everything the state said earlier was not evidence” and advanced his notion that “it will become evident that the state made a snap judgment” about his client. It is hard to disagree with Mr. Cauley’s claim that “constant questioning is the only way we can reach the truth.” Andrew Witherell, representing Kevin Berry, emphasized the need for presumption of innocence despite, in his words, the stigma of incarceration and the understanding of an inmate’s condition as being unpopular. Speaking to the jury, he said “you can see and hear [collaborating] witnesses, make conclusions about what they say and how they say it, how they act, their demeanor.. you can listen and make judgment as to their bias, their concerns. Is there trickery? What do they expect to get out of this trial?” Tom Pedersen, representing John Bramble, asked the jury “would you be satisfied with what you hear if Mr. Bramble was the valedictorian of the charter school?” He then warned the jury that they would hear a “dizzying array of contradictions,” asking them to consider whether they would “allow these contradictions to return a verdict of guilty.” He also correctly identified a “lack of dignity” in the state’s approach, extending this to Sergeant Floyd and making clear that this is “about finding truth, not about throwing it up against the wall and hoping something sticks.” He promised a “vigorous and zealous” defense of John Bramble moving forward. Obadiah Miller, who was anticipating release in October 2019 prior to being targeted by this- as the judge explicitly stated during court- ongoing investigation, is being represented by Tony Figliola. Mr. Figliola instilled the notion that his client was “a friend of some of the organizers, and he was dragged into this because of that association.”

A sobering reminder that in its relentless quest to retaliate against those who dare to assert their humanity, the state will also seek to criminalize us based on who our friends are.

Following a once more tedious and plotless offering and review of the state’s direct evidence- photographs and envelopes out of context while interviewing the state’s crime scene experts and evidence collection and processing teams- it was apparent that the approach of wearing out the jury by showing item after item would be used again, in addition to heavy reliance on collaborating witness testimony for the state. The state appears to be counting on the jury- and thusly on each of us- to accept its deadly assertions through trading on what Jarreau Ayers called “the illusion of prestige” during his own self-mounted defense in the fall’s first round of trials. Jarreau Ayers’ diligent and courageous pro se efforts resulted in his acquittal by jury on the murder charges and conviction on kidnapping, riot and conspiracy, but it was clear that this illusion of prestige he so perfectly identified was going to be strong again in the opening week here.

Details of what was described- as it had been in the last trial- as the biggest crime scene in Delaware history were reviewed, but the state continued to fail in accounting for why well under 10 percent of the items presented as evidence were in turn analysed by forensic experts despite this investigation being characterized as a “spare no expense” situation. The death of a law enforcement officer (as correctional officers are classified in Delaware) was one of the outcomes of the uprising- this carries its own separate murder charge in Delaware, so each defendant indicted for murder has two murder charges despite there being one death discovered in the end. The state demonstrated in its witnesses’ testimony once more that no outside consultation was made by the state’s investigators with professionals who had engaged with similar situations at any time. It was, as it had been before, abundantly clear early this week that the strength of the bamboozle would again be key to the state’s pursuit of retaliation, retribution and fear-mongering in a desperate attempt to persist in their agenda of domination over each and all of us.

Court support is always welcome- though discretion, composure and situational awareness all remain paramount as there is and has been constant media, state and law enforcement presence (all with smartphones) in the courtroom, hallways and surrounding areas in Wilmington. It remains advisable to note for care of self and others that this will be a long haul, with record of a 5 week trial completed thus far and reasonable belief that this second round of four planned trials will last at least that long as well. Stay tuned for regular updates as to the evolving cases both for and against the defendants of Smyrna.

vaughn17support.org

Second ‘Vaughn Uprising’ Prison Revolt Trial Underway in Delaware

from Unicorn Riot

Wilmington, DE – On Monday January 14, opening arguments took place in the second trial of prisoners accused of involvement in a prisoner revolt at the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center on February 1, 2017. During the events that were quickly labeled the ‘Vaughn Uprising’, prisoners at Building C at the prison facility in Smyrna, Delaware took over the building and held several guards and a prison counselor hostage while demanding improvements to poor living conditions. The uprising ended the next day with police forcibly retaking the building and with corrections officer Sergeant Steven Floyd found dead in his office.

Prisoners have also filed a lawsuit claiming prison guards systematically tortured and abused them in indiscriminate collective punishment since the uprising took place. In the months after the uprising, 18 prisoners from Vaughn would be indicted on felony charges of murder, assault, kidnapping, riot, and conspiracy.

The first trial of three prisoners accused of involvement in the Uprising concluded late last year. Dwayne Staats and Jarreau Ayers, both prisoners serving life sentences at Vaughn who represented themselves at trial and freely admitted their involvement in events during the uprising, were both convicted on some of the charges brought by the state. Derric Forney, a younger prisoner scheduled to be released in a few years, was found not guilty on all charges despite prosecutors’ insistence that he acted as a “soldier” working under alleged planners of the building takeover.

Letters sent by Staats described how the intention behind the building takeover was to create awareness about abuse and poor conditions at Vaughn. In this respect he wrote, “the trial is an extension of the uprising.” Similar themes appear poised to define the second Vaughn Uprising trial as well.

Opening arguments in the second trial from the State of Delaware, given by Deputy Attorney General Nichole Warner, were nearly identical to those made in the first trial last year. Little evidence was mentioned that pertained to the specific defendants, with the prosecution instead giving a general overview of events on February 1, 2017 and making an emotional appeal over the death of corrections officer Steven Floyd.

The four defendants currently on trial are Abednego Baynes, Kevin Barry, John Bramble, and Obadaiah Miller.

  • Baynes is alleged to have been seen participating in the attacks on each of the 3 corrections officers taken hostage that day.
  • Barry is accused of being seen “in the group huddled up in the yard” before the uprising took place, and prisoner witnesses for the state reportedly claim he was seen assaulting two corrections officers and had blood on his clothes.
  • Bramble is accused of being seen wearing a mask, assaulting one of the COs, and having blood on his hands and clothing.
  • Miller is accused of being seen by prisoners with Sergeant Floyd after he was taken hostage, is accused of being seen with a knife, allegedly had blood on his clothes, and prosecutors claim his DNA was found in the mop closet where Sergeant Floyd was kept after he was taken hostage (Floyd was later moved to the Sergeant’s office where his dead body would later be recovered. According to the autopsy by the medical examiner, Floyd did not die from a specific wound and likely would have survived if police had rescued him sooner.)

Defense attorneys for all four prisoners on trial aggressively contested the evidence against their clients in their opening arguments, insisting that the state would not meet its burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Andrew Witherell, representing Kevin Barry, told jurors that “simply because [Barry] is a sentenced inmate…that doesn’t lower his standards” of rights to due process: “the fact that he’s a prisoner does not imply any additional bad will.”

Witherell told jurors that “little, if any” of the evidence they would hear at trial would have anything to do with his client. He also cast doubt on the integrity of investigations by the prosecution, which he said was largely based on incomplete police work done in haste in the immediate aftermath of the prison revolt: “Police wrote a report, rubber stamped [it], and here we are.

Anthony Figliola, representing Obadaiah Miller, also took shots at Delaware prosecutor’s assertions about his client’s guilt. Figliola told jurors “this whole prosecution is selective” because out of “126 inmates in the C Building…only 18 were charged.” Miller was due to be released in October 2019, Figliola told the courtroom, which cast doubt on his motive to attack prison guards because he “was not one of the guys that had nothing to lose“.

Figliola asserted that the only “direct evidence” against Miller, who is accused of participating in the attack that led to Floyd’s eventual death, is from other prisoners, “individuals who weren’t charged” and therefore have a clear motive to curry favor from prosecutors and prison officials through testimony favorable to the state’s case. He also told jurors about how many of the inmate witnesses had been housed together in the months leading up to trial, creating a scenario where “some of them go back, and they talk to the other inmates, and a plan is formulated” to change their stories.

Maybe 8 people…had access to that mop room at all times…whose DNA did they look for? One person. That’s what I mean when I talk about selective prosecution.” – Anthony Figliola, defense counsel for Obadaiah Miller

Miller’s lawyer further attacked the assertions that he stabbed Sergeant Floyd, saying that investigators “didn’t find any shank on Mr. Miller“, “didn’t find his fingerprints or DNA on any shanks“, and didn’t find any blood on his clothes. Miller is also accused of being seen wearing a mask during the uprising, which Figliola said doesn’t mean he is guilty since many prisoners were covering their faces to avoid breathing in smoke from fires that had been set inside the building. Figliola also told jurors that Miller’s DNA being found in the mop closet where Floyd was held hostage didn’t mean he was guilty either, since Miller was a “tier man” who was entrusted with a job cleaning the prison facility, meaning that he had regular access to the mop closet, meaning that his DNA could have ended up there as the result of his normal cleaning duties.

Thomas Peterson, defense counsel for John Bramble, began his opening argument with a folk tale about a farmer who finds a snake freezing to death and puts it in his pocket, only to be bitten and poisoned by the snake. He told jurors that the fable illustrated why they shouldn’t trust the inmate witnesses central to the prosecution’s case: “really what this case is going to boil down to…[is] the testimony of snakes from James T. Vaughn…this case is predicated upon the testimony of those inmates.”

Peterson went on to tell the court that “there is not one iota of objective, scientific evidence that points to the guilt of John Bramble” and promised that “you are going to hear a dizzying array of contradictions” in the evidence provided by the state.  Bramble’s lawyer also challenged jurors to reflect on whether it was truly possible for them to give a fair trial with the presumption of innocence “to someone who’s already in jail”, asking them “Would you be satisfied with this same quality of prosecution…if Mr. Bramble were the valedictorian of the charter school?

Peterson said that Bramble deserved “to be prosecuted based on quality evidence” and denounced the prosecution’s evidence as having “no dignity” and providing “a lack of dignity to Sergeant Floyd” by not adequately investigating the circumstances surrounding his death. Characterizing the Delaware Attorney General’s work on the Vaughn Uprising case as a “throw everything up against the wall and hope something sticks approach“, Peterson told the jury that “an inmate doesn’t come to court and testify unless he wants something in return.”

After the first three defendants made opening arguments, Judge William Carpenter told the state to call their first witness, and had to be reminded that he had forgotten entirely about Abednego Baynes, the fourth defendant on trial in his court. Baynes is represented by attorneys Saagar Shah and Cleon Cauley, whose opening argument alleged that the state made a “snap judgement” after the uprising and that the case against their client is based on that snap judgement rather than proper evidence. “My client was put on a list early in this process,” Cauley told the court, asking jurors to “question everything” and to look out for missing or contradictory evidence in the state’s case. Like other defense counsel, Cauley insisted that “little, if any” of the evidence to be presented at trial would implicate Abednego Baynes.

The case brought by the Delaware Attorney General, like their case in the first trial, depends on accounts by cooperating inmate witnesses, many of whom have given contradictory statements and live at the mercy of prison officials who will be watching their testimony with interest.

Testimony by inmate witnesses is also expected to be used as evidence in a lawsuit on behalf of prisoners housed at Vaughn. The lawsuit, which is being brought by Delaware attorney Stephen Hampton, alleges a deliberate policy of “ongoing abuse” and “ubiquitous torture” of prisoners. Hampton also noted that three suspicious deaths of Vaughn prisoners since the February 2017 uprising have been dismissed by state officials as unrelated to any foul play by prison staff. In the first Vaughn trial last year, several inmate witnesses for the state testified about being violently abused by prison guards and police in the immediate aftermath of the uprising.

The second Vaughn Uprising trial, like the first, is scheduled to last over a month, with weeks of witness testimony from corrections officers and inmate witnesses. 11 other prisoners indicted for their alleged role in the uprising are scheduled to go to trial later in 2019.

 

Title photo credit: Tomasz Kuran aka Meteor2017, via Wikimedia Commons


Unicorn Riot’s Coverage of the Vaughn Uprising trials:

Philly Turns Up the Heat for Mumia Abu-Jamal

from It’s Going Down

The following press release about continued action in support of Black Liberation prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal was sent to It’s Going Down, which we reprint below.

A community delegation delivered thousands of petitions to Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner on January 7th, asking him to not stand in the way of justice for Mumia Abu-Jamal and to not appeal a December 27, 2018 court decision by Common Pleas Judge Leon Tucker.

Wayne Alexander Cook (nephew of Mumia Abu-Jamal) handed the 4,227 signed petitions to Krasner’s assistant as they entered the DA’s lobby. The thick manila envelope also contained letters from Tadashi Seto (Doro-Chiba, Japanese rail workers’ union), Edwin R Ferris (International Secretary-Treasurer of International Longshore & Warehouse Union) and other labor statements in support of Abu-Jamal’s quest for freedom after 37 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit.

The DA refused to talk with the group that included Michael Africa, Jr (MOVE Organization), Sandy Joy (Rowen University professor) and other members of the umbrella group Mobilization4Mumia. The DA’s Director of Communications Ben Waxman did meet soon after, but revealed no new information when asked whether or not Krasner will appeal. “That’s above my paygrade,” he said.

The online petitions were gathered in ten days from thousands of people in the US and from around the world by Roots Action and Mobilization4Mumia.

The petitions are part of an effort to persuade Philadelphia DA Krasner to refuse an appeal of Tucker’s ruling. Such an appeal would lead to years of court proceedings and further postpone Abu-Jamal’s chance to prove his innocence. After almost four decades in prison and suffering from cirrhosis of the liver and related ailments, years of court delays will be nothing less than a death sentence and a denial of justice.

On January 5th, 2019 almost 200 people marched in the rain with signs and banners in front of the DA’s office with demands of: “Justice Now! Krasner: Don’t Appeal! Free Mumia! ”

Mumia Abu-Jamal won the significant victory before Judge Leon Tucker in a decision granting Abu-Jamal new rights to re-open appeals. The ruling could impact other prisoners whose appeals were similarly denied by biased judges.

Tucker ruled that former PA Supreme Court Justice Ronald Castille denied Abu-Jamal fair and impartial hearings by not recusing himself from the defendant’s appeals between 1998 and 2012.  The ruling referenced Castille’s public statements of being a “law and order” prosecutor, responsible for 45 men on death row, the support of the Fraternal Order of Police, and new evidence supporting the claim that Castille singled out men convicted as “police killers.” Tucker cited all the above because they created the appearance of bias and impropriety in the appeal process.

Abu-Jamal has always maintained his innocence in the fatal shooting of police officer Daniel Faulkner. Judge Tucker’s ruling means that Abu-Jamal’s appeals of his 1982 convictions are restored. Abu-Jamal has argued through his past appeals that he was framed by police and that the prosecution manufactured evidence of guilt and suppressed the proof of his innocence, in addition to other violations of his due process rights.

After decades in prison for a crime he didn’t commit, Abu-Jamal’s supporters are demanding that the charges should be dismissed and he should be freed.

Support The Vaughn 17!

from Go Fund Me

Support defendants in the Vaughn uprising trial as they face immense repression!

______________________________________________________________________________

After a series of peaceful protests yielded few results, incarcerated
comrades took over a building at James T. Vaughn Correctional Center in
Delaware on February 1st, 2017. Citing the election of Donald Trump and
worsening prison conditions as reasons for the uprising, prisoners took
control of their unit for over 18 hours until the state used a backhoe
to demolish a prison wall. One of the correctional officers, Steven
Floyd, was found dead following the uprising.

The state of Delaware has since accused 17 prisoners of outrageous
offenses, including three counts of murder for each of 16 of those
inmates. Desperate to assign blame instead of acknowledging the
notoriously abusive conditions at Vaughn that led to the uprising, the
state has been doing whatever it can to put these people away for life,
despite having no hard evidence against any of them. Its case relies
entirely on contradictory witness testimony from prisoners who stand to
gain from testifying.

In spite of this, one prisoner has already been found guilty of all but
one murder charge, and another of kidnapping and assault. Since then,
one of the 17 defendants was tragically found dead in his cell; another
potential witness had died under mysterious circumstances the week
before.

The trial for the next four defendants will begin in mid-January, and
the defendants, their loved ones, and their other supporters expect a
long and difficult road ahead. We are raising money to distribute directly
among the 16 remaining defendants’ commissaries, as well as to put towards
purchasing clothes and legal supplies, so that those of them still facing trial
can be as prepared as possible.

Thank you!!!

On Flexing and Cyberspace: Brief Thoughts on the NYE Noise Demo

Submission

Happy Twenty-Nine Guillotine! As many huddle around the television, all dressed up in their most glitzy and glamorous attire in anticipation of the clock tick tocking to midnight, those rowdy neighborhood anarchists have taken to their own NYE ritual. Instead of popping bottles of champagne, we pop bottle rockets at prisons. This year was no different. A rowdy noise demonstration took place in center city on NYE, full of noisemakers, fireworks and spraypaint. It was quick, well executed, and everyone got away ok! I sincerely hope that those inside were able to hear/see a bit of the show before Philly’s Swinest had to show up and ruin our fun :(. It was a well executed demonstration from rushed start to the final dumpster dive. Some cute tags went up, the demo at the FDC started with a very large fireworks display, followed by many bottle rockets, and once too many cops showed up we made a timely exit. I would like to touch on two observations though and pose some questions pertaining to them.

Firstly, I’m not one to try and tell people what to chant. In my personal opinion, however, the amount of flexing that goes on in Philly’s chant game is pretty corny. There were many “aggressive” chants pertaining to cops. They reminded me of middle school and listening to Leftover Crack. Love the sentiment and if people feel empowered by these chants that’s fantastic, but the degree of flexing in these statements is so extreme. Out in the streets we are most certainly not in a place to be performing these actions, nor are we even armed. Empty threats and talking too much potentially puts you and others around you in danger. Security culture is important, even in our chants. Essentially don’t talk about shit you are gunna do in public and don’t talk about shit you’re not gunna do in public. Sure these chant’s are cute and fun, but are they entirely realistic both in expressing ones desires and current possibilities? Furthermore, are they smart chants to be saying, or could these messages be conveyed in a more secure fashion?

Secondly, I would like to touch on the ever present monster in our modern lives that is the smartphone. Scouring the interwebs I saw photos that were taken at the demonstration last night. None of them were of people doing anything, however, does insta really have to know about this tonight? One can’t come back tomorrow or another time to catch a shot of the tags? Taking your smart phone to the demo and taking photographs at the thing poses a risk for yourself and other individuals. It can definitively place you at the demo via location data and track the march route. If police were to get a hold of someones phone, they could find cameras on the march route and the footage on those may potentially catch people a case. Furthermore, your microphone is always on, recording everything that you say and that is said around you…see the previous paragraph. Another thing with taking photographs, the image files have data encoded into them when you take them. This data includes the time, date, and location the photograph was taken and data pertaining to what phone took the image. These images can then potentially be synced with icloud or google photos where these companies now presumably have some sort of record of the photographs. I guess what I am trying to say is that a lot can go wrong with bringing your phone to the demo and using it. It’s typically a better idea to leave it at home, or if you must bring it, password protect everything, encrypt your SD card, uninstall any apps that have a profile linked to you, turn off location data, and turn it off. Your friends don’t need to know what you’re up to for social media clout, it’s actually better if they don’t.

None of these ideas are meant to be proposed in a fashion asserting that anyone did anything “wrong”. These are just a few points that I think could be beneficial for people to think about and talk with their respective affinity groups about. Stay safe and stay smart so we can continue to be dangerous in the streets together.

Love and Solidarity to those locked up for daring to take on law and order!
Till all prisoners are free and all prisons are ash!
Go Birds!
Be Crime Do Gay (Come up with a fresh catch phrase 2k19)

Statement on Mumia Abu-Jamal

from Philly IWW2

Mumia Abu-Jamal has always maintained his innocence in the 1981 fatal shooting of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner. His prosecution was politically-motivated because of his Black Panther Party membership, his support of the MOVE organization and as a radical journalist. His 1982 trial and subsequent 1995 PCRA appeals were racially biased: the prosecution excluded African Americans from the jury; and PCRA trial Judge Albert Sabo, the same judge in Abu-Jamal’s initial trial, declared, “I’m gonna help them fry the n—-r.”  Abu-Jamal’s frame-up stands out as the city’s most notorious wrongful conviction.

On Dec. 27, Mumia Abu-Jamal won a significant case before Judge Leon Tucker in a decision granting him new rights of appeal.

Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner: The Philadelphia Chapter of the IWW  calls on you to do the right thing.  Do not stand in the way of justice.  Do not appeal Judge Tucker’s decision.

Cease defending former Philadelphia DA and later PA Supreme Court Judge Ron Castille’s now-discredited claim of impartiality.  Justice must extend to controversial cases your predecessors held untouchable.  Allow Abu-Jamal to go forward with re-arguing his appeals, which Judge Tucker states “would best serve the appearance of justice.

Report from New Year’s Eve Noise Demo

Submission

A call was made for an anti-prison solidarity noise demo on NYE. When we arrived to the meetup there were scattered crews huddled in the rain, around 20 or 30 people in all. A short announcement was made explaining the route and dispersal for the march, supplies to share, and the legal number.
The march began by taking the street. There was a banner that read “Total Freedom Against All Authority”, drums, black flags, fireworks, leaflets, shakers, graffiti, and rowdy voices showing disdain for prison and police.
Once at the prison more fireworks were shot and we made a bunch of noise. Cops showed up surprisingly fast compared to other years. But the march left the prison as the plan was to leave once police presence was significant. We marched against traffic until we turned into an alley, where a dumpster was thrown to block the way. Everyone dispersed.

What we liked
We liked keeping this New Year’s Eve anti-prison tradition alive. We were happy with the turnout despite the weather. People came prepared with their own objectives and the tools to carry them out. We liked that the bloc stayed together and kept it tight once the cops arrived. We liked that we didn’t wait around to get fucked up by the police. We’re glad that the planning and promotion were kept offline. We thought overall that the demo went smooth. This demo opened our eyes to the potential of short flash mob type actions and left us wondering what something like this would look like with a different intensity.

What we didn’t like
Because of its shortness we regret not seeing the prisoners. That was our biggest disappointment because the intention behind the demo was to have an interaction with the prisoners. It’s difficult to navigate how long to stick around while maintaining an intensity that feels honest and defiant without making it easier for the cops to arrest us. Two more take aways were: we could have done more to make our banner less flimsy, and that we wonder if this particular demo is becoming predictable to the police. Lastly the unfortunate timing of a park ranger meant we couldn’t have more time for discussion before the march began.

We hope that other people at the march share their reports, thoughts, criticisms, and feelings and we can create an open dialogue around actions.

For the blackest December
No prisons
No borders
Fuck law and order
Happy New Year!

Jan 7th: Letter-writing to Eric King and Kevin “Rashid” Johnson

from Philly ABC

The new year has arrived! As we kick off 2019, let’s not forget about the struggles of our incarcerated comrades– those who did not get to celebrate, but instead faced increased scrutiny from the state and continue to be retaliated against for their political beliefs. Such retaliation often comes in the form of transfers to other prisons, providing correctional officials an opportunity to say ‘oops, we lost your property,’ in addition to an already torturous process of readjustment. In some cases, a transfer is just part of a three-pronged attack. This is where a prisoner has first been brutally beaten by guards, then gets transferred to special prison that will facilitate the next stages of retaliation, long-term isolation and restricted communication.

On Monday January 7th, 6:30pm at A-Space, join us in sending some extra love and support to Kevin “Rashid” Johnson and Eric King, whom are currently facing the hell described above. We’re going to let them know ‘We got your back!’

Kevin “Rashid” Johnson is a politicized prisoner, co-founder of the New Afrikan Black Panther Party-Prison Chapter (NABPP-PC), and prolific artist. In his own words, “Because I struggle to give a voice and human face to and to publicize abuses suffered by my imprisoned peers, help them challenge their mistreatment and work to educate them on their human rights and true role within Amerika’s overall exploitative, oppressive and racist political-economic system, officials have always aimed to isolate me from them.” On top of 18 years of solitary confinement, Rashid has also been subjected to several retaliatory transfers since 2012, each time meticulously documenting prison abuses so that outside supporters can better hold prison officials accountable for their actions against prisoners. On November 3, 2018 he was transferred yet again to Indiana where he now is. Let’s send him some love and show Pendelton CI how much outside support he has.

Eric King is a vegan anarchist who was arrested and charged with an attempted firebombing of a government official’s office in Kansas City, MO. Eric allegedly threw a hammer through a window of the building and then threw two lit bottles inside, though both failed to ignite. He was identified as a suspect by local police because he had previously come under suspicion for anti-government and anti-police graffiti, and is allegedly involved with the Kansas City Fight Back insurrectionist collective. Eric accepted a non-cooperating plea agreement to a federal felony charge that carries a sentence of 10 years in prison. He has since been attacked for his politics, taken from his family, and sent to Leavenworth. He has been in total isolation for months now without any disciplinary charges filed. The BOP wasn’t successful at trying to build a new case against him so they are enacting revenge trying to send him to a Special Management Unit (SMU) one of the most horrible programs in the BOP. Eric and his family can use all the love and support we can offer right now.

Please note: If you are writing from home, neither Rashid or Eric can receive letters on colored paper or in colored envelopes. We will also be sending birthday greetings to prisoners with birthdays in January: Fran Thompson (the 4th), Jeremy Hammond (the 8th), Abdul Azeez (the 9th), Sundiata Acoli (the 14th), Joe-Joe Bowen (the 15th), and Marius Mason (the 26th).

Call for Court Support for Second Trial of Vaughn 17

from It’s Going Down

Call for Court Support as jury selection begins on Jan. 7, 2019 for second trial of Vaughn 17.

Calling for abolitionists and activists to show up in the courtroom as the second trial of the Vaughn 17 gears up. Jury selection is slated to start on January 7th, 2019. This trial group includes Kevin Berry, Abednego Baynes, Obadiah Miller and John Bramble. The trial will take place at New Castle County Courthouse, 500 N. King St., Wilmington, DE.

Background

On February 1, 2017, inmates incarcerated at James T. Vaughn Correctional Center took control of C-building in a prison uprising, and for a moment were liberated from the carceral state. In the course of the uprising, they released a set of modest demands to improve their living conditions. One prison guard was killed. The state responded with intense repression. The Vaughn 17 were subsequently indicted on blanket charges of riot, conspiracy to riot, kidnapping, assault on an officer, and murder. The state’s case against those charged has no basis in reality and relies heavily on the testimony of a prison snitch. Check out Live from the Trenches: The Vaughn 17 Speak for in-depth background.

The first trial concluded in early November. Of the three on trial, Jarreau Ayers and Dwayne Staats went pro se, or represented themselves. The biggest victory came when Deric Forney was found not guilty of all charges. Ayers was acquitted of the 3 counts of murder but found guilty of the other charges, and Staats was convicted on all but one count of murder. Shortly after the trial, one of the inmates, Kelly Gibbs, was found dead in his cell. Attention on this case is crucial to check the Delaware D.O.C. on the rampant violence committed against inmates.

Dwayne Staats and Jarreau Ayers both wrote about the importance of court support in the fight for liberation:

“‘Actions’ speak louder than words and I heard you loud and clear. Y’all definitely was a source of strength that was heavily relied upon… So your collective spirits are harmoniously in accord with the synergism that enables us to purify our conscious and strengthen our beings with every inhale.” -Dwayne Staats

https://www.instagram.com/p/BriPf-SBrOP/

“Every day the energy y’all provided through your support and letting your presence be known is as much a part of what took place in that courtroom as me and my comrade Staats were!!! The fight behind these walls is often lonely and thankless even by other oppressed prisoners whose minds haven’t yet opened up to their reality!!… The fact that y’all stood in solidarity with us speaks to the truth comrade George Jackson spoke to when he explained the need for (us) those of us behind the wall and those of y’all on the outside to stand in unity! I’m a firm believer in the saying that steel sharpens steel and that the origin of that steel is forged and molded through/in fire! I force that mind frame on my comrades every day and I want y’all to know that we acknowledge that y’all stood in that fire with us! That steel that was forged in those moments helped keep us sharp at every turn!… I ask that y’all stay strong with each other on hard times and continue to force integrity on each other, on us, and most importantly on this system!” -Jarreau Ayers

Vaughn 17 Need our Support!

Court support is meaningful in and out of the courtroom as we show strength in solidarity against state oppression! Organize a crew to hold a banner outside the courthouse. Bring food or hot drinks with information about the case to share on the street outside. Share updates on facebook, instagram, twitter, or other social media. Write letters to those on trial. Inside the courtroom, demonstrate positive energy and strength for the defendants. Connect with friends and families of the defendants and offer support. Let them know they are not alone in the struggle! Raise a fist in solidarity!

To write to the Vaughn 17, check out the addresses listed here.

New Year’s Card Party: Monday Dec. 3rd 6:30pm

from Philly ABC

The December letter-writing event will be a New Year’s card-writing party for all US-held political prisoners. Rather than focusing on a specific set of prisoners, we will send a card to each of the nearly 60 US-held political prisoners sending them season’s greetings. This is a time we set aside annually to send short messages of solidarity to everyone recognized as being held in prison for their political beliefs or actions. This enables us to drop a line each year to prisoners that we have either already featured more in depth at letter-writing events throughout the year or those we will be doing events for in the future. We will also send birthday greetings to those with birthdays in December: Muhammad Burton (the 15th), Connor Stevens (the 17th) and Casey Brezik (the 30th).

While the circumstances of our comrades’ incarceration and the current political climate leave a lot to be desired, much good has also come out of 2018 including the freedom of Debbie and Mike Africa. Long-term prisoners Herman Bell and Seth Hayes were also release on parole this year to return to their families bringing the US-held political prisoner count to below 60. This event is an opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to free the remainder, stay strong and stay in the struggle.

Light refreshments will be provided. Please come join in the festivities!

[LAVA 4134 Lancaster Ave]