Give Through the Bars 2022

from Philly ABC

give-through-the-bars.jpg

The closing stretch of 2022 with its holidays and festive gatherings is in sight. No doubt, many of you are eager to gift the new Certain Days calendar to friends and loved ones. However, just because the year is winding down into sweater weather and hot cocoa, does not mean that the Anarchist Black Cross Federation’s struggle against repression will be taking a break.

On the contrary, we plan for 2023 to be full of solidarity, mutual aid, and freedom for political prisoners and we’d love it if you could help us get a head start on those efforts.

Tax Deductible Donations

The ABCF can now provide tax deduction receipts for donations of over $500 through our fiscal sponsor, IDAVOX/One People’s Project.

To take advantage of the tax deduction, make your check payable to “One People’s Project” with “ABCF” in the memo and mail it to: ABCF-OC, P.O. Box 4341, Santa Ana CA 92702. Be sure to include a return address (preferably email) where we can send your receipt back to you.

Of course, this isn’t the only way to contribute to the work the ABCF does– we can accept contributions of any amount through the normal CashApp, Venmo, PayPal and checks/money orders if no tax deduction is desired. You can also pick up some sweet Pushing Down The Walls and other merch from our Orange County chapter.

Looking Back and Planning Ahead

Speaking of “the work,” here’s an incomplete list of what we’ve been up to since our last year end round up:

Online and in-person letter-writing events hosted by various chapters, as well as our ongoing administration of prisonersolidarity.com.

ABCF Chapters and comrade organizations all over the US and Canada put together 12 Running Down The Walls 5K events which raised a combined $21,154.84 for the Warchest Program.

Regular, reliable disbursements to the 17 current Warchest Program recipients.

Additionally, we’ve provided mutual aid to comrade organizations internationally as well as individual political prisoner support committees here on Turtle Island. For example:

$2000 to Belarus Anarchist Black Cross to support political prisoners there.

$1500 to Moscow Anarchist Black Cross to respond to the repression of anti-war organizing against Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. We were able to make this transfer before Russia was excluded from SWIFT banking systems.

$1000 to the Civil Liberties Defense Center to assist with their eventually successful representation of Eric King. The BOP’s bogus, retaliatory charges were designed to bury him decades beyond his original sentence.

$4000 to Sundiata Acoli’s post-release support fund.

$1000 to the housing fundraiser for Herman Bell, a former Black Panther and political prisoner who was incarcerated for 45 years.

$1000 to the support committee of Kamau Sadiki to help cover ongoing legal, medical, and visitation costs.

Now that you have some idea of what to expect from us in 2023, please consider making a contribution and inviting your friends to do likewise. As an organization made up entirely of volunteers, our ability to fight for the survival and freedom of imprisoned comrades is dependent on gifts from our community.

They’re in there for us. We are out here for them.

Monday November 28th: Letter-writing for Kojo Bomani Sababu

from Philly ABC

kojo-bomani-sababu-letter-writing.jpg

Philly ABC is back with our regular letter-writing events this month featuring New Afrikan Prisoner of War, Kojo Bomani Sababu. He is currently serving time for actions with the Black Liberation Army, and later an attempted escape from prison.

Kojo was captured on December 19th, 1975 along with anarchist Ojore Lutalo during a bank expropriation. He was also charged with the murder of a drug dealer in his neighborhood. He was convicted of seditious conspiracy in 1981 and sentenced to 55 years in prison (until 2045). Then in 1988, he was convicted of conspiracy to escape from the federal prison at Leavenworth with Puerto Rican Independista Oscar Lopez Rivera. He is now scheduled to be released to state prison upon the expiration of his federal 55-year sentence to serve possibly an additional 15 years for this case. Notably, Ojore was paroled and Oscar was granted clemency by President Obama.

Join us this Monday at 6:30pm, at Iffy Books (319 N. 11th St. #3E) as we show Kojo that he is not forgotten! We continue to advocate for our elder freedom fighters serving time for their service to liberation struggles. Snacks and letter-writing supplies will be provided and we will listen to a few short audio recordings of Kojo.

We will also send birthday cards to U.S.-held political prisoners with birthdays in November & December: Josh Williams (November 25th), Muhammad Burton (December 15th), Casey Brezik (December 30th).

Monday October 10th: Reportback Mailing and Card-writing

from Philly ABC

rdtw-2022-reportback-zine.jpg

In lieu of our usual monthly letter-writing event, we will be mailing printed copies of our 2022 Running Down The Walls reportback to the political prisoners and prison rebels who participated from behind the walls, and to the 17 political prisoners supported by the ABCF Warchest.

Join us this Monday at 6:30pm, at Iffy Books (319 N. 11th St. #3E) as we package and mail the reportbacks. Snacks and supplies are provided. We encourage people who want to discuss ideas on how to support political prisoners and prisoners of war to come hang out, and sign cards for political prisoners with birthdays in October: Jamil Al-Amin (October 4th) and Malik El-Amin (October 8th).

Running Down The Walls 2022 Reportback

from Philly ABC

We’re pleased to share the success and reportback from the fifth annual Philadelphia Running Down The Walls in support of political prisoners and prisoners of war.It was a consistent 70 degrees with intermittent rain showers on Sunday September 11th. Despite the soggy weather, around 150 participants began arriving around 10am. We kicked off the day with an inspiring Yoga warm-up led by Sheena Sood .

Did you say Yoga warm-up? In the rain?

That’s right! A crowd participated in a drizzly Yoga warm-up as the remainder were checking in and setting up tables. Sheena was on point as always bringing revolutionary intention to the day. She also shared inspiring quotes from Albert Woodfox who we were blessed to have join us last year, warming up our hearts and minds as well as our bodies.

Joining us again after emceeing the 2020 event, was hip-hop artist and organizer Blak Rapp Madusa of the Dignity Act Now Collective . Once the warm-up concluded, Madusa rallied the first group of mostly walkers, commencing the 5K at around 11:30am. A medium-paced group started shortly after, followed by a group of runners taking off 10 minutes later. Once all three groups completed the 5K, we gathered for a group photo on an adjacent hill, and then regrouped at the picnic area for refreshments and speeches.

The first speaker was author of Free the Land and MXGM Philly member – Brother Onaci . He provided an overview on the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, and some of the current projects in motion both in Philly and within the broader movement. See Brother O’s speech from Unicorn Riot’s live stream here.

We are organized around defending the human rights of all Afrikan people. We are organized around freeing political prisoners, demanding reparations, ending genocide against Afrikan people, and ending sexist oppression. We have a number of programs nationally … including the New Afrikan Scouts, including community self defense, and including political education. And right now we’re trying to organize in Philly around these various principals, through these programs, alongside the Jericho Movement and our other comrades in the broader movement to free us all.

Next we read a condensed version of a longer statement from Toby Shone, an anarchist political prisoner out of the so-called UK. He was arrested by counter-terrorism cops in November 2020 as part of “Operation Adream” – an attempt by the UK government to silence dissent and criminalize anarchism. Toby and several other prisoners locked inside HM Prison Parc (a private G4S facility) ran down the walls with us, making it the first ever prisoner-organized RDTW event on the other side of the Atlantic ocean.

Madusa took the mic again to give a shout out to Toby and numerous other prisoners from several facilities that joined us in this solidarity 5K. The crowd repeated the names as the ones we had were read aloud . Some of the prisoners joining us this year were:

Jerome Coffey – SCI Pine Grove
Hector “Pica” Huertas – SCI Pine Grove
Paul Kali Hickman – Vaughn Correctional Center
Mumia Abu-Jamal – SCI Mahanoy
Toby Shone – HM Prison Parc (UK)
Hassan Tucker – SCI Phoenix
Alejandro Rodriguez-Ortiz – SCI Huntingdon
John Bramble – Vaughn Correctional Center
Lawrence Michaels – SCI Frackville
Jacob Busic – Halifax Correctional Center

The next speaker was former political prisoner and prisoner of war, Jihad Abdulmumit. Jihad became a member of the Black Panther Party at the age of 16 and eventually went underground in the ranks of the Black Liberation Army. He was later captured and incarcerated for 23 years for his involvement in the Black Liberation Movement. Jihad himself was recipient of the Warchest during his time, and we were thrilled to have him join us from Richmond, VA with his family this year. See Jihad’s speech here.

My name is Jihad Abdulmumit. I am a former political prisoner, member of the Black Liberation Army and the Black Panther Party, representing my comrades that are still in prison, captive, and all those that are not part of the party also. I am the Chairperson of the Jericho movement. I am on the Board of the Abolitionist Law Center. I see my comrade Saleem is here as well. I am part of the Spirit of Mandela coalition. If you haven’t heard of that, you need to google Spirit of Mandela. We had a tribunal last year charging the United States, again, for the genocide of Black, Brown and Indigenous people, which I will speak about just a little bit in a moment. And I am part of the Jama’at of Uthman dan Fodio, a Muslim community throughout the United States. … How long have we been running down the walls? Several decades. I came home in 2000. Right before that, because of the Warchest, I was able to get my paralegal degree. So I was able to get coffee– I am a coffee drinker, thank you. There’s something seemingly innocuous about that, and I was also able to pay for my books for my schooling. That’s the extent, breadth and scope of the Warchest.

The last speaker was former Black liberation soldier and anarchist prisoner of war, Ojore Lutalo. He was arrested in 1975 with Kojo Bomani Sababu after they attempted to rob a bank to fund revolutionary projects, which ended in a shoot out with police. During his 28 years of incarceration he was placed in Trenton State Prison’s Maximum Control Unit (MCU) – a special sensory deprivation unit reserved for political prisoners and prisoners of war. Ojore was also a co-founder of the ABCF , and is the person who initiated the Warchest program in 1994.

In isolation, in the Management Control Unit, we created the Anarchist Black Cross Federation [and] created the Warchest program. … Since then, the ABCF has been supporting political prisoners… Drugs are a major problem in our communities and in the prison system. … That’s one of the reasons they kept me in the control unit for 22 years [is] because I was teaching against that. I was teaching that we had a right to rebel. I was teaching that we were oppressed, and we don’t have to remain oppressed.

We were honored to have former political prisoners and prisoners of war, Ojore Lutalo, Jihad Abdulmumit, Daniel McGowan, Lore-Elisabeth Blumenthal, Mike and Debbie Davis (Africa) join us in person this year. We’d like to thank Unicorn Riot for live streaming and Hate5six for filming the event.

We thank Food Not Bombs Solidarity for the snacks and refreshments, Here & Now Zines, IWW, Socialist Rifle Association, and Mobilization for Mumia for tabling, and to Latziyela and Come On Strong for printing the shirts. We thank Blak Rapp Madusa for emceeing, Sheena Sood for leading the Yoga warm-up, and Philly Muslim Freedom Fund for their contribution to the Warchest.

Many thanks to MXGM Philly for supporting and co-sponsoring the event, and the ~200 people who participated in person or remotely – inside or outside prison – from California, Bridgend (UK), Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Tokyo (JP).

Together we raised $11,607 to be split between MXGM Philly and the ABCF Warchest that sends monthly stipends to 17 political prisoners and prisoners of war with little or no financial support. A full breakdown of Warchest funds in and out since 1994 is available here (updated July 2022). Funds available beyond the reserved amount needed for the monthly stipends will be disbursed as one-time donations to other political prisoners who demonstrate financial need, or to the release funds of the next comrades to come home.

We look forward to more successes in the next year as we further the struggle to free all political prisoners and abolish the carceral system! As an extension of last year’s focus, a meeting was held after the event to organize support for Mumia’s upcoming court date. Mumia’s attorneys are litigating the six boxes of previously undisclosed evidence that were illegally withheld from Mumia’s prior trial and appeals, and could potentially reverse the conviction.

On October 19th, a judge said she will issue a ruling on the petition to remand the case back to the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas. It is critical that we pack the court on this day, which is the 3rd Wednesday in October. Save the date in your calendar!

We also want to take the opportunity to invite you to the Memorial for Maroon and 6th Annual Prisoners’ Families Brunch on Saturday, October 8, 2022. The event is taking place from noon to 4pm at One Art Community Center (1435 N. 52nd St.) and it’s completely free! That includes free food, drinks, entertainment, speakers, and information. Join us as we celebrate the legacy and memory of freedom fighter Russell Maroon Shoatz, and show support for family and friends of our community members who are or have been incarcerated.

prisoners-families-brunch-2022.jpg

We want to close this out by commemorating former Angola 3 political prisoner – Albert Woodfox. After serving 43 years in solitary confinement, longer than any prisoner in US history, he was released on his 69th birthday – February 19th, 2016. We were honored that Albert traveled all the way from New Orleans to join us in person at last year’s Running Down The Walls. The energy and perspective he brought was inspiring and resonating.

albert-woodfox-rip.jpg

Albert joined the ancestors on Thursday August 4th, 2022. Our hearts go out to all who were close to him, and we will keep fighting in his honor. #RestInPower comrade.

Until all are free,
Philly ABC

In Contempt #21: Running Down the Walls, Alabama Prison Strike Kicks Off, Political Prisoner Updates

from It’s Going Down

[This post only contains information relevant to Philadelphia and the surrounding area, to read the entire article follow the above link.]

In this column, we present our monthly roundup of political prisoner, prison rebel, and repression news, happenings, announcements, action and analysis. Packed in as always is updates, calls to action, fundraisers, and birthdays.

There’s a lot happening, so let’s dive right in!

Uprising Defendants

Unicorn Riot has published a major report on the case of Khalif Miller, a Philadelphia defendant being held in Federal prison awaiting trial on charges related to the 2020 George Floyd uprising.

Abolitionist Media

Michigan Abolition and Prisoner Solidarity have released a new issue of their newsletter, The Opening Statement, and the fifth issue of Philadelphia prisoner zine IB64 has also just been published.

Uprising Defendants

Everyone should support the defendants facing charges related to their alleged participation in the George Floyd uprising – this list of our imprisoned comrades needs to be getting shorter, not longer. See Uprising Support for more info, and check out the Antirepression PDX site for updates from Portland cases. The status of pre-trial defendants changes frequently, but to the best of our knowledge they currently include:

David Elmakayes 77782-066
FCI McKean
Federal Correctional Institution
P.O. Box 8000
Bradford, PA 16701

 

Hundreds Take Part in Running Down the Walls Events, Raising Thousands for Political Prisoners

from It’s Going Down

[This post only contains information relevant to Philadelphia and the surrounding area, to read the entire article follow the above link.]

Report from the Anarchist Black Cross Federation (ABC-F) about Running Down the Walls events across the so-called US and Canada.

In early September, various Anarchist Black Cross chapters held the annual Running Down the Walls 5K events. Since 1999, prisoners and supporters throughout North America have participated in Running Down the Walls (RDTW) often running or walking simultaneously in many cities and prisons at once. This is a non-competitive 5K run/jog/walk/roll in order to raise awareness and funds for political prisoners. Over the years, we have raised thousands of dollars and lots of awareness around the struggle to free political prisoners. Below is the run down of Running Down the Walls 2022. Feel free to donate here.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (September 11th)

Running Down the Walls in Philadelphia, PA

A little drizzle didn’t stop the people from coming out for Running Down the Walls 2022 in Philadelphia on September 11th. A group of about 150 came together in FDR park, along with 50 or so participating remotely – inside and outside prisons – to raise funds and strengthen solidarity with political prisoners. This year, proceeds were split between the ABCF Warchest and the Philly chapter of the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement. Together we raised $11,607, with $5,803.50 going to each.

A full report is coming soon from Philly ABC. You can also view coverage from the event from Unicorn Riot here:

[Video Link]

‘Running Down the Walls’ Marathon Benefit for Prisoners in Philly

from Unicorn Riot

September 11, 2022

Philadelphia, PA – An annual 5K run/walk/roll benefit called “Running Down the Walls” aims to amplify the voices of political prisoners and provide material support, according to Philadelphia Anarchist Black Cross, the host of today’s event in South Philly’s FDR Park. Organizers say this year’s event will “benefit the ABCF Warchest and the Philly chapter of the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement.

Watch our live coverage below:

[Video Link]

Unicorn Riot streamed last year’s speeches at the same location (video below). Unicorn Riot also recently covered the destruction of swaths of the “Meadows” at FDR Park, west of the marathon site.

[Video Link]

The proceeds from the event are split with the Anarchist Black Cross Federation “Warchest Program” which includes incarcerated people like Leonard Peltier, Eric King, and Mutulu Shakur.

In Contempt #20: Black August, Running Down the Walls, Prisoner Hunger and Work Strikes

from It’s Going Down

[This post only contains information relevant to Philadelphia and the surrounding area, to read the entire article follow the above link.]

Running Down the Walls

The Anarchist Black Cross Federation’s annual Running Down the Walls fundraiser will be taking place in mid-September. Events are planned for Chicago on September 10th, Philadelphia on the 11th, Austin and Richmond on the 17th, Portland, New York, Lowell and Pomona on the 18th. Statements in support of the event have been published by Dan Baker and Oso Blanco.

Prisoner News

Lore Blumenthal, a George Floyd uprising defendant from Philadelphia, has now been released.

Abolitionist Media Projects

Mongoose Distro has online copies of the first few issues of IB 64, a new mini-zine produced entirely by Pennsylvania prisoners.

Uprising Defendants

Everyone should support the defendants facing charges related to their alleged participation in the George Floyd uprising – this list of our imprisoned comrades needs to be getting shorter, not longer. See Uprising Support for more info, and check out the Antirepression PDX site for updates from Portland cases. The status of pre-trial defendants changes frequently, but to the best of our knowledge they currently include:

David Elmakayes 77782-066
FCI McKean
Federal Correctional Institution
P.O. Box 8000
Bradford, PA 16701

Upcoming Birthdays

John Bramble

A former Vaughn 17 defendant and contributor to the Vaughn zines, “Live from the Trenches”, and “United We Stood.” While the state has now dropped its attempts to criminalize John in relation to the uprising, he, like all of the Vaughn 17, deserves respect and support for making it through the entire process while staying in solidarity with his co-defendants and refusing to co-operate with the prosecution.

Pennsylvania uses Connect Network/GTL, so you can contact him online by going to connectnetwork.com, selecting “Add a facility”, choosing “State: Pennsylvania, Facility: Pennsylvania Department of Corrections”, going into the “messaging” service, and then adding him as a contact by searching his name or “NT0282”.

Birthday: September 1

Address:

Smart Communications / PA DOC
John Bramble – NT0282
SCI Phoenix
PO Box 33028
St. Petersburg, FL, 33733

 

Running Down The Walls

from Philly ABC


rdtw-2022.png

Download posters, flyers, and quarter sheets for sharing.

Sunday, September 11, 2022
11 am sharp (Yoga warm-up at 10am)
FDR Park

RDTW 2022

Philadelphia Anarchist Black Cross invites you to our fifth annual Running Down The Walls (RDTW)! Join us for another revolutionary 5K run/walk/roll and day of solidarity amplifying the voices of our comrades behind bars, lifting them up in their struggles, and maintaining material support. If you would like to participate in light yoga and warm-up stretches before, please arrive by 10am and bring a mat if you can.

Running is not required! You can also walk, roll, or cheer. 5K is two loops around the park and at a walking pace will take about 45-60 minutes. Light refreshments and socializing will take place in the park afterward.

This year’s event will benefit the ABCF Warchest and the Philly chapter of the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement. Join us as we once again raise energy and funds for the freedom of long-term political prisoners and the struggles they are serving time for.

Power in defense of freedom is greater than power in behalf of tyranny and oppression, because power, real power, comes from our conviction which produces action, uncompromising action.

– Malcolm X

This year marks a milestone in the Warchest program as we surpassed $205,000 in funds raised! Due to the abominable conditions that political prisoners and freedom fighters are subjected to, and the prevalence of health issues from medical neglect, they need our support now more than ever. Join us as we celebrate our successes this last year and build momentum for the struggles ahead!

If you cannot make it to the event or would like to make an additional contribution, please sponsor a participant either outside prison, inside prison, or one of each. Contact us for more information on sponsoring!

We will ship official shirts nationwide to people who register to participate remotely, pay online and leave their shipping address in the comment box!

Proceeds will be split between the Warchest Program and the Philly chapter of the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement. The ABCF Warchest program sends monthly stipends to Political Prisoners and Prisoners of War who have insufficient, little, or no financial support.

“Philadelphia Three” Political Prisoner Khalif Miller Languishes Pre-Trial in Federal Prison

from Unicorn Riot

August 30, 2022

Philadelphia, PA – Federal inmate in the Bureau of Prisons, Khalif Miller, says his rights are being violated while in prison awaiting trial on federal arson charges from the 2020 anti-police uprisings. Miller said he hadn’t had an attorney visit for his first 19 months incarcerated, that he was stabbed 10 times and almost killed in an attack, and has caught COVID-19 twice in prison while awaiting trial as part of a what he says was political targeting by former U.S. Attorney Bill McSwain.

Miller was arrested on October 28, 2020, and charged along with three others, Carlos Matchett of Atlantic City and Anthony Smith, a prominent activist, for allegedly throwing flaming materials into a police car near Philadelphia’s City Hall on May 30, 2020, during the George Floyd Uprising.

Miller has dubbed them the “Philadelphia Three” and the federal government say they conspired together to burn the cop car. Yet, Miller said he’s never even “met nor spoken” to the other co-defendants of the alleged conspiracy and said he was simply taking a picture from atop the police car when it was set aflame.

“The same photo that should’ve set me free, the federal government used to create an elaborate plot in which I have become a political prisoner that I’ve termed the “PHILADELPHIA THREE”, because there are two other people that I’ve never met nor spoken with who the federal government has roped together and charged us with arson and conspiracy all in their endless effort to dismantle and alter the progress of the “BLACK LIVES MATTER MOVEMENT.”

Khalif Miller

Miller wrote to Unicorn Riot from his prison cell and called for support by sharing his story, writing him, and donating for legal support (full letter below with address). Miller is one of over 300 people across the United States who were federally charged during the height of the anti-police and anti-racist uprising of mid 2020. (This wave of prosecutions contradicts claims by supporters of January 6 riot defendants, who often falsely claim the government has declined to serious prosecute nearly anyone for rioting in 2020.)

Miller, a father and business owner, was only 25 years old when he was arrested.

The Philadelphia Three were indicted (pdf) on October 20, 2020, after a grand jury charged them with obstruction of law enforcement during a civil disorder and two counts of arson. If convicted, they face a mandatory minimum of seven years in prison with a maximum of 65 years, with three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $750,000.


Guilty Plea, Arson Charges Dropped, and Sentencing for Woman Who Set Police Cars on Fire

After the massive uprisings against anti-Blackness and police terror across the country in 2020, dozens of cities were left with millions of dollars in property damage. The federal government then levied arson charges and a rare 1960s vintage civil disorder charge in attempts to punish protesters with long federal prison sentences. For more on the recent use of civil disorder charges, see our 2020 report on an Illinois man charged with civil disorder by the feds for participating in the uprising in Minneapolis.

In Philadelphia, there were several other high-profile arson cases from activity on May 30, 2020. Directly related to the Philadelphia Three was the case of Lore Elisabeth Blumenthal, a 32-year-old white massage therapist. Wearing a bandana over her face along with goggles, Blumenthal was seen in photographs throwing flaming material toward a police car. Authorities traced the t-shirt she was wearing to an Etsy review and arrested Blumenthal within days.

Image of Lore Blumenthal with flaming material directed toward a police car – Khalif Miller is seen standing on a police car in the distance – image taken on May 30, 2020 – source: U.S. District Court

In March 2022, Blumenthal pled guilty to two counts of interfering with law enforcement officers during a civil disorder in connection with what the feds state was “arson of two” police vehicles, the same vehicles the Philadelphia Three are charged for. Her arson charges were dropped in the plea deal. She was subsequently sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison.

In a key photograph, Miller is visible in the background standing on the police car, while Blumenthal is the right foreground with the flaming material in her hand. Miller is being charged with arson for the vehicles, yet, he maintains his innocence:

“As the protest started to take a turn, I was taking photos when suddenly mid-photo chaos erupted and the car that I was standing on (a government official vehicle) erupted into flames as it was firebombed. Eventually every vehicle in the area received the same fate.”

Khalif Miller letter to Unicorn Riot

From Coast to Coast: Open Letter by Anarchist Prisoner Toby Shone

from Philly ABC

toby-shone-statement.jpg

I’ve previously written about the need to recreate an Atlantic bridge, based on international revolutionary solidarity and reciprocal knowledge, that moves towards affinity and direct action in support of our imprisoned comrades. Since then, I was recently visited by a comrade from Anarchist Black Cross Philadelphia here at the G4S facility in which I’m held. G4S is originally an American company, Wackenhut, which has pioneered the private prison and security industry all over the world. As part of our discussion between the comrade from ABC Philadelphia and myself, we spoke of the need to prevent our groups and commons becoming inward-looking and closing in on themselves in microscopic scenes and myopia. The anglophone world is particularly susceptible to this trend, although it is not solely confined to English-speaking territories. How can we translate rhetoric into practical activity? Words and deeds must coincide, and that is what?

For too long, a kind of one-way discourse has been in effect, breached by too few valiant individuals and groups. We can speak of a loss of solidarity flowing across the Atlantic between north and south, east and west. Without wanting to advocate any kind of anarcho-tourism or the colonial approach of the wholesale export-import political programs of the activist left, I’m in favor of strengthening our international networks in the face of an increased technocratic authoritarianism. To remain locked up in our local areas without considering the struggles elsewhere is self-defeating, as repressive operations seek to confine us and stem our anarchic contagion specifically to promote sterility. Can we renew an Atlantic bridge that connects our tendencies, that connects the uprisings in the North American metropolises to those in Europe, Latin America and Asia? Can we join together the struggles of the long-term COINTELPRO prisoners with those elsewhere in the global prison industrial complex?

As a very basic contribution with the small means I have, I’ll join the Running Down The Walls 5K run event organized by the comrades of the American chapters of the ABC, called for September the 11th-18th this year, during the time I have out of my cell on the yard or the gym. This event aims to create a sense of togetherness through athletics. Keeping our fitness and health is important outside, and money raised by the event will supply funds to the ABC Warchest.

The real challenge is to enable an evolution in self-organization, osmosis, decentralization and cooperation; critical and practical action. As a first principle and minimum start, we can mention the exchange of letters and postcards that break the isolation of the prison walls and national borders that separate us. Since I am forbidden a large part my correspondence, and especially that of political content, it is fair to say that this constitutes meaningful solidarity of a certain type. Then there is the collation and publication of the letters and updates of our imprisoned comrades, and the incendiary dialogues which are always breaking out and multiplying as written about by comrades Alfredo, Gabriel, and Gustavo. This dialogue between inside and outside is very important. We need to cut through the bars which divide us all to support our hunger strikes, to identify structures of repression, to raise funds, to carry out campaigns, to hold events and give a helping hand to those next to our side even though an ocean may seem to separate us. I hope certain comrades can forgive me for laboring the topic as I’m positive everything I’ve written about already exists to varying degrees over several territories, but I’m aware of the need occasionally to reiterate key aspects of our practices to spread them and create new connections.

Let your voices be heard in protest from the Atlantic to the Pacific, from Maine to Mexico. Serve notice upon the murderous capitalistic class that you will not again stand idly by and see your brothers made victims because they so will it, and they will dare not do it!

– Lucy Parsons, The Proposed Slaughter, 1905

Everyone to the streets,
Toby Shone
19 August 2022

Federal judge questions push to imprison trans activist found with a Molotov cocktail at 2020 protest

from Mainstream Media

A federal judge on Thursday questioned prosecutors’ push to imprison a trans activist who was arrested after a New Year’s Eve 2020 protest outside the Federal Detention Center in Center City.

Philadelphia police officers found Josie Robotin, 26, of Willow Grove, carrying a backpack filled with what they described as a Molotov cocktail, several firecrackers, lighters, and a container filled with flammable liquid near the demonstration, which had been organized to protest for the rights of trans prisoners.

She was federally charged with possession of an unregistered destructive device and later pleaded guilty to that crime.

But at her sentencing hearing Thursday, U.S. District Judge John R. Padova credited her story that she brought the incendiaries not to use at the protest but rather for a bonfire she and her friends planned to attend later that night to celebrate the New Year’s holiday.

He sentenced her to a day in prison — or time served — far less than the two years prosecutors were seeking.

“Isn’t it fair to say we have a defendant who was engaged at the time in a fair exercise of freedom of speech?” the judge asked Assistant U.S. Attorney Vineet Gauri before announcing his decision. He wondered aloud whether Robotin and her crime were “the time, the place, the person to make an example of.”

Robotin’s sentence is only the latest in a string of cases arising from the 2020 protest movement in Philadelphia in which federal judges have imposed sentences far less punitive than those sought by the government.

Last month, Lore-Elisabeth Blumenthal, a Philadelphia-area massage therapist, was sentenced to 2½ years in prison for setting police cars ablaze during protests over the police killing of George Floyd. The government had asked for four.

That same month, another defendant charged with torching police cars during the demonstration — Ayoub Tabri, 25, of Arlington, Va. — received a prison sentence of 364 days. Prosecutors had pushed for three to four years.

But Padova was the first judge in those cases to explicitly question whether the Justice Department’s stance was overly harsh toward the defendant exercising their right to protest.

He noted prosecutors had presented no evidence that Robotin had planned to commit any crime with the incendiary device in her backpack.

Gauri, the prosecutor, stressed that Robotin had pleaded guilty and stressed that the Molotov cocktail she was carrying could very well have proved more dangerous than a gun.

“This is a destructive device,” he said. “It’s designed to inflict serious injury and casualties. It’s not designed for bonfires and parties.”

But ultimately, Gauri offered little pushback, acknowledging that the Justice Department had taken a “holistic view” of protest cases around the country when deciding on sentencing recommendations for the Philadelphia defendants.

In all, former U.S. Attorney Bill McSwain charged six people with federal arson charges tied to the 2020 demonstrations, vowing to pursue the mandatory minimum sentence of at least seven years in each case — part of a wider Trump-era Justice Department strategy to crack down on property destruction tied to the protests.

But since Trump and McSwain left office, prosecutors have extended deals to many of the defendants, offering to drop the arson count if they pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of obstructing law enforcement during a civil disorder. That crime is punishable by up to five years.

In Robotin’s case, she hadn’t been charged with arson or accused of starting a fire, her attorney Marni Jo Snyder noted Thursday.

“My client was participating in the exercise of freedom of speech in the right way,” she said, adding later: “No one at that protest at the FDC tried to set anything on fire.”

Still, Robotin was arrested on Dec. 31, 2020, along with six others as part of what Philadelphia police described at the time as a “large group of 40 to 50 unruly antifa protesters” who broke windows and spray-painted buildings on the streets around the detention center.

The crowd set off fireworks, painted buildings with slogans such as “ACAB” — an abbreviation for All Cops Are Bastards — and smashed a Philadelphia Sheriff’s Office vehicle parked nearby.

But police investigators later walked back their claim that those charged had direct ties to antifa — a loose network of far-left groups often accused of an array of antigovernment misdeeds — saying instead that the vandalism and destruction that night appeared antifa-inspired.

Addressing the judge Thursday, Snyder sought to separate Robotin from the vandals. Aside from the unused incendiary device Robotin was carrying, the lawyer noted, prosecutors had presented no evidence that she had been involved in any of the other crimes that occurred after the protest.

Robotin, meanwhile, said the events of 2020 — from the pandemic to Floyd’s death, to a rise in bias-related crimes — had served as a “powder keg” that prompted her presence at the protest outside the FDC that night.

Still, she told the judge, she was not trying to minimize the crime to which she had pleaded guilty.

“My intention was to hand out firecrackers to partygoers [at the planned bonfire later that night] and to use what was described in the report as an incendiary device to light logs that would not light on fire on their own,” she said. “In hindsight, I can see how alarming that would be [for officers] to find.”

When it came time to impose his time-served sentence, Padova said he’d been persuaded that Robotin had learned her lesson and that he was impressed by her record of activism and volunteering in the trans community.

He responded: “I know that you don’t believe you’re being blessed for that criminal conduct. You have pleaded guilty to a very serious crime. Fortunately, no one was hurt.”

Of the seven protesters arrested that night, only Robotin was charged with a federal crime. The others faced state charges. Their cases have all since been dismissed, withdrawn, or resolved in plea deals resulting in only a court-imposed fine.

LORE IS FREE!

from We Love Lore

A message from Lore:

It’s Lore here! I am out of prison and safely in the arms of family! Thank you all for your two+ years of urgent work and generous donations that all built up to my liberation! These efforts sustained myself and my peers in FDC. You filled my heart, my hands, and kept my mind free.

I look forward to bringing you all in for continued support of the disproportionately affected Black, Indigenous, and Latinx people and parents incarcerated right now. If you can, please continue donating to my commissary drive, and keep your attention and action focused here for upcoming ways you can support those on the inside. Your sweet support in the future will swell my big dreams for those who remain stolen. Thank you all for being a light for punished people who need love, healing, accountability and liberation most of all.

Please stay in touch with me here and on email (freelore [at] protonmail [dot] com), if you have ever written to me please send me your address again, I’m excited to stay in touch!

We’ve got this!

Phone Zap for Vaughn 17 Prisoner John Bramble

from Twitter

URGENT: #V17 prisoner John Bramble is being retaliated against in Delaware and needs our help getting moved out of state. Please call in today, tomorrow, and any time next week!

Johnny is on Day 3 of fasting for #BlackAugust. Last time he went on an official hunger strike to protest retaliation in Delaware, they wrote him up for every meal he missed, for causing a “health, safety and fire hazard” and “failing to obey an order.”

Johnny is an anti-racist prison rebel who was indicted for alleged participation in the 2017 uprising at the same facility he is currently housed in. For more information about the #Vaughn17, see vaughn17.com and itsgoingdown.org/united-we-s…

Please send any info you receive when you call or questions about the phone zap to phlbailfund@riseup.net.

In Contempt #19: Fight to Free Mutulu Shakur, Civil Liberties Defense Center Victories, Call to Support Kevin “Rashid” Johnson

from It’s Going Down

[This post only contains information relevant to Philadelphia and the surrounding area, to read the entire article follow the above link.]

Uprising Defendants and Other Ongoing Cases

The Green and Red podcast recently published a new interview with someone working on the Uprising Support site. Philadelphia uprising defendant Lore Elisabeth Blumenthal has now been sentenced to 30 months in prison, which means she will be due for release shortly, having already served 25 months waiting for her trial.

Abolitionist Media Projects

Fayette Speaks is a new podcast that aims to amplify the voices of prisoners at SCI Fayette in Pennsylvania, with the first episode coming soon.

Uprising Defendants

Everyone should support the defendants facing charges related to their alleged participation in the George Floyd uprising – this list of our imprisoned comrades needs to be getting shorter, not longer. See Uprising Support for more info, and check out the Antirepression PDX site for updates from Portland cases. The status of pre-trial defendants changes frequently, but to the best of our knowledge they currently include:

David Elmakayes 77782-066
FCI McKean
Federal Correctional Institution
P.O. Box 8000
Bradford, PA 16701

Lore-Elisabeth Blumenthal 70002-066
FDC Philadelphia
PO BOX 562
Philadelphia, PA 19105

Upcoming Birthdays

Lawrence Michaels

A former Vaughn 17 defendant, and contributor to the Vaughn zines, “Live from the Trenches” and “United We Stood”. While the state has now dropped its attempts to criminalize Lawrence in relation to the uprising, he, like all of the Vaughn 17, deserves respect and support for making it through the entire process while staying in solidarity with his co-defendants and refusing to co-operate with the prosecution.

Pennsylvania uses Connect Network/GTL, so you can contact him online by going to connectnetwork.com, selecting “Add a facility,” choosing “State: Pennsylvania, Facility: Pennsylvania Department of Corrections”, going into the “messaging” service, and then adding him as a contact by searching his name or “NW2894.”

Birthday: August 14

Address:

Smart Communications / PA DOC
Lawrence Michaels – NW2894
SCI Frackville
P.O. Box 33028
St. Petersburg, FL 33733

Pedro Chairez

A former Vaughn 17 defendant. While the state has now dropped its attempts to criminalize Pedro in relation to the uprising, he, like all of the Vaughn 17, deserves respect and support for making it through the entire process while staying in solidarity with his co-defendants and refusing to co-operate with the prosecution. You can read some of Pedro’s words here.

Illinois uses Jpay, so you can send him a message by going to jpay.com, clicking “inmate search”, then selecting “State: Illinois, Inmate ID: Y35814”.

Birthday: August 17

Address:

Pedro Chairez Y35814
Pontiac C.C.
P.O. Box 99
Pontiac, IL 61764