Vaughn Defendant Jarreau “Ruk”Ayers Fights to Overcome Illegal Conviction While Enduring Retaliation from the State

from It’s Going Down

An update on Jarreau “Ruk” Ayers, a defendant in the Vaughn 17 about his illegal conviction and the State’s subsequent retaliation through denial of medical care. To read more about the background of the Vaughn 17 case, go here.

One of two defendants illegally convicted in the Vaughn Prison uprising on Feb 1, 2017, Jarreau “Ruk” Ayers finds himself locked into a civil and criminal battle with the State of Delaware over his freedom and medical neglect. As part of his refusal to be submissive to an oppressive system, Mr. Ayers chose to represent himself at trial and skillfully discredited state witnesses. The prosecution, unable to definitively place him inside the building during the riot, attempted to attack Mr. Ayers’ character citing his confident demeanor during his pro se representation of himself in his case.

During closing arguments, the prosecutor stated, “You spent the better part of the last month with Jarreau Ayers. What about Mr. Ayers suggests that he is that person? That he is not going to do exactly what he wants to do, which is to go inside and join in what’s happening in there?” This statement under Delaware and federal law is a violation of the defendant’s 6th and 14th amendment rights. It’s illegal to use a person’s Constitutional privilege to represent themselves as evidence of guilt! The prosecutor essentially told the jury: “If he’s not afraid to stand up against this court, then he must be guilty of attacking these officers!” This statement erroneously insinuated that simply choosing to represent himself was a criminal act within itself.

The Delaware Supreme Court acknowledges that the prosecutor’s statement’s violated Mr. Ayers constitutional rights, but still refuses to vacate his sentence. In retaliation for his audacity to represent himself at his trial and in an apparent attempt to silence him, Mr. Ayers has been denied medical treatment. He was scheduled to have complete left knee reconstructive surgery back in 2017 but has not yet been provided this urgent medical procedure. He was locked down in Pennsylvania’s Restrictive Housing Unit and denied care. In September 2021, a federal court judge gave a memorandum opinion declaring the former DOC Chief Medical Director liable in stating: to prove deliberate indifference in the denial of medical treatment, all that needs to be established is that the delay or denial was a non-medical reason was the cause of Mr. Ayers not receiving his surgery. The judge concluded that Mr. Ayers’ security classification—a clearly non-medical reason—was driving the state to deny his surgery.

The federal court acknowledged that the denial of his medical care violated Mr. Ayer’s right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment under the 8th Amendment. Five years later, still no one has been held accountable for the abuse nor has his sentence been vacated for the violation of his constitutional rights that resulted in his illegal convictions. To submissively accept that the law can pick and choose what class of society the Constitution protects is to forfeit one’s own self-respect. Therefore, Mr. Ayers is seeking the assistance of the people to aid in the pursuit towards his freedom, whether through legal assistance, bringing awareness to his fight, or financial support. Ruk firmly believes that his freedom will come from the actions and demands of the people, not the integrity of the State!

In Contempt #12: New Year, Same Struggle for Abolition

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.]

Happy new year! Welcome to 2022 and the first installment of In Contempt!

In today’s column, we have a lot of news to cover. From updates on political prisoners, to ways to support abolitionist projects, publications, and groups. There’s so much going on, so let’s dive right in.

Political Prisoner News

Perhaps the biggest piece of political prisoner news from the last month is that Russell Maroon Shoatz has died, after 49 years in prison and 52 days out on “compassionate release”. You can read a statement on his passing from his representatives at the Abolitionist Law Center here, and another from the New York Anarchist Black Cross.

Maroon’s passing has also been marked by a poem from fellow political prisoner Sundiata Acoli.

Vaughn 17

There are a number of updates to share around the Vaughn 17. Vaughn 17 prisoner John Bramble, who was recently transferred back to Delaware, and Ronald “Comrade Pound” Maxime have launched a hunger strike demanding to be moved out of Vaughn due to the retaliation they have been facing. At SCI Phoenix in Pennsylvania, Vaughn 17 prisoner Dwayne “BIM” Staats is calling for people to help pressure the prison administration, who are trying to provoke an incident that could sabotage his progress back into general population. The Movement Magazine, published by Pennsylvania’s Human Rights Coalition, has recently published a story by BIM and Jarreau “Ruk” Ayers, telling the story of deceased Vaughn prisoner Kelly Gibbs and his former co-defendant Keith Gibson. Issue 45 can be downloaded from their website.

Finally, supporters are continuing to fundraise for Kevin Berry, a former Vaughn prisoner who was recently released and needs support as he adjusts to the outside world.

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. The status of pre-trial defendants changes frequently, but to the best of our knowledge they currently include:

David Elmakayes 77782-066
FDC Philadelphia
PO BOX 562
Philadelphia, PA 19105

You can donate to David’s legal funds here.

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

Phone Zap for John Bramble and Ronald Maxime: On Hunger Strike at James T. Vaughn Prison

from It’s Going Down

Comrade John Bramble (SBI 450202) and Comrade Pound, aka Ronald Maxime (SBI 646319), went on hunger strike at James T. Vaughn prison on Saturday, demanding to get transferred out to another facility. John Bramble was moved back to James T Vaughn prison after filing a successful lawsuit against PA a couple months ago, and has since been harassed by guards, moved to solitary confinement, under investigation, multiple times. Both he and Comrade Pound are both under investigation now in the hole by Lt. Dejesus who is seeking revenge for the 2017 prisoner uprising at C-Building in James T. Vaughn prison.

Both our comrades have not been told why they are under investigation. The guards lied to Ronald and told him he had a lawyer visit, then brought him to an interview room with Lt. Dejesus, where he was told he has a write up for “gang affiliation” (which is not news, and is well documented). Lt. Dejesus has never come to talk to Johnny, but he is supposed to. While under investigation, their mail has been tampered with and access to communication is limited.

Direct Calls:

Commissioner Monroe Hudson – (302) 739-5601

Jaime Young- (302) 857-5347;

Community Relations – (302) 857-5246

Shane Troxler at the Bureau of Prison – (302) 857-5221

Warden Robert May – (302) 653-9261

Governor John Carney – (302) 744-4101

Script:

“Hello, I am calling on behalf of two prisoners at James T Vaughn prison, John Bramble SBI 450202 and Ronald Maxime SBI 646319. They are both demanding to get transferred out of James T Vaughn to another prison facility, as they are not safe at James T. Vaughn since being held under investigation for over a week illegally. They have both been on hunger strike since Saturday. Ronald Maxime wants the warden to come speak to him. I urge you to transfer both of them to another facility.”

In Contempt #10: Anarchist & Antifascist Prisoner News, Political Prisoners Released, George Floyd Repression 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.]

Welcome to the tenth installment of In Contempt, your monthly one-stop shop for state repression news, political prisoners birthdays and updates, and information about how to support those being targeted by the State in the aftermath of the George Floyd rebellion.

With so much to cover, let’s dive right in!

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. The status of pre-trial defendants changes frequently, but to the best of our knowledge they currently include:

David Elmakayes 77782-066
FDC Philadelphia
PO BOX 562
Philadelphia, PA 19105

You can donate to David’s legal funds here.

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

Upcoming Birthdays

Dwayne Staats

One of the two Vaughn 17 defendants to be convicted for taking part in the Vaughn prison uprising of early 2017. Dwayne and his co-defendant Jarreau “Ruk” Ayers bravely admitted to their own parts in the uprising, and then, free to testify openly without fear of incriminating themselves any further, tore holes in the prosecution’s attempts to convict anyone else – as he put it, “we’d accept being stabbed in the chest to present others from getting stabbed in the back”. To learn more about Dwayne in his own words, you can read his account of the whole case here, check his writings on the Vaughn 17 site, his recent letter to the Kentucky Attorney General, or his contribution to the Vaughn zine, “Live from the Trenches.”

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 “NT0000”.

Birthday: November 10

Address:

Smart Communications/PADOC
Dwayne Staats, NT0000
SCI Phoenix
PO Box 33028
St Petersburg, FL 33733

 

FBI Raids Home of Philly Proud Boy’s Vice President Aaron Whallon Wolkind

from Philly Antifa

From The Inquirer:

Aaron Whallon Wolkind, Vice President of Philly Proud Boys, despite living in Delaware.

“The FBI raided the home of the vice president of the Proud Boys’ Philadelphia chapter on Friday, seizing his computer, phone, and other electronics to gather information on the Jan. 6 attack at the U.S. Capitol, his lawyer said Monday.

Aaron Whallon Wolkind, 37, woke up around 4 a.m. Friday to more than a dozen federal agents, dressed in riot gear and accompanied by an armored vehicle and battering ram, swarming his Newark, Del., home, and ordering through a loudspeaker that he exit with his hands in the air, his lawyer Jonathon Moseley wrote in a court filing…

Wolkind was not in D.C. during the Jan. 6 riot, Moseley said. He believes the search and seizure was to gather information in the case against Zach Rehl, the self-described president of the Philadelphia Proud Boys, whom Moseley also represents. Rehl was arrested in March on charges he conspired with other leading members of the organization to attack the Capitol and has been in custody in Philadelphia pending trial since.”

( click link for full story)


Wolkind is a longtime Proud Boy who participated with Rehl, Richard Schwetz and other PB’s/assorted racists who attacked Anti-Racists at the Columbus Statue in Marconi Plaza in the summer of 2020. Wolkind has been at nearly every Proud Boys demo in Pennsylvania since the group’s founding.

Zach Rehl continues to be held at FDC Philadelphia awaiting trial.

 

In Contempt #9: Running Down the Walls 2021; Eric King Trial, Hunger Strikes in Texas & Oregon

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.]

Vaughn 17

Vaughn 17 prisoner Kevin Berry is getting out, and Philly Anti-Repression are holding a fundraiser to help support him upon his release. You can read a previous statement from Kevin here.

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. The status of pre-trial defendants changes frequently, but to the best of our knowledge they currently include:

David Elmakayes 77782-066
FDC Philadelphia
PO BOX 562
Philadelphia, PA 19105

You can donate to David’s legal funds here.

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

Upcoming Birthdays

Lore-Elisabeth Blumenthal

Lore-Elisabeth Blumenthal is a community care worker from Philadelphia and pre-trial political prisoner facing charges connected to her alleged participation in the George Floyd Uprising.

Birthday: October 27

Address:

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

In Contempt #7: Charges Dropped, Charges Filed

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.]

A lot has gone on this month. From comrades like Loren Reed getting out (again!), to abolitionists in Florida getting their charges dropped, to Water Protectors like Jessica Reznicek now facing years in prison with a possible terrorism enhancement.

In this month’s column, we also bring you a whole roundup of news, prisoner birthdays, and updates on those facing repression in the wake of the George Floyd uprising.

Last up but not least, August is shaping up to be a busy month, with a call for people to organize #ShutEmDown rallies and much more! With so much to cover, let’s dive in!

Pennsylvania

A hunger strike involving several members of the Vaughn 17 has now been resolved, with hunger striker Alejandro “Capo” Rodriguez-Ortiz writing that “We look at the 10 day strike as a success… Now the world sees what the PADOC was doing.” The strike caused the PA Department of Corrections to publicly acknowledge the existence of their long term segregation program. According to the legal director for the Abolitionist Law Center, this had never happened before.

Mongoose Distro have published a short piece of writing by David Elmakayes, a Philadelphia defendant facing charges connected to last summer’s uprising. You can donate to help David’s legal costs here.

Upcoming Events

The month of August is commemorated as “Black August” by many radical prisoners in memory of George Jackson, and August 10 is commemorated in Canada and some other countries as Prisoners Justice Day.

Jailhouse Lawyers Speak are calling for abolitionist demonstrations under the slogan “Shut ‘Em Down 2021” on August 21st and September 9th. Reach out to Oakland Abolition and Solidarity if you’d like to get stickers to promote the events. Also, various international ABC groups observe August 23rd-30th as a week of solidarity with anarchist prisoners.

The annual Running Down the Walls solidarity event is scheduled for September 12th this year, with events confirmed for Austin, Lawrence, Chicago, New York, and Philadelphia already so far. For a list, go here.

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. The status of pre-trial defendants changes frequently, but to the best of our knowledge they currently include:

David Elmakayes 77782-066
FDC Philadelphia
PO BOX 562
Philadelphia, PA 19105
You can donate to David’s legal funds here.

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 Greene
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

Russell “Maroon” Shoatz

Anarchist/anti-authoritarian-leaning Black Liberation/Black Panther prisoner, held since 1970 for his alleged involvement in attacking a police station in response to a police murder. Maroon is the author of the classic text “The Dragon and the Hydra: A Historical Study of Organizational Methods,” among others.

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 “AF3855.”

Birthday: August 23

Address:

Smart Connections/PA DOC
Russell Maroon Shoatz #AF-3855
SCI Dallas
Post Office Box 33028
St Petersburg, Florida 33733

 

David Elmakayes, BLM defendant, Needs $ For Lawyer

from Go Fund Me

David Elmakayes, who is being charged for his participation in last summer’s George Floyd uprisings in Philadelphia, needs money to hire a new attorney. Currently, his public defender is trying to get him to snitch on other defendants to benefit his own case and David wants no part of it.

David is being charged for:

-Maliciously damaging property used in interstate commerce by means of explosive (1 count)

-Carrying explosives during the commision of a felony (1 count)

-Possession of a firearm by a felon (1 count)

You can also write David at:

David Elmakayes 77782-066

FDC Philadelphia

PO Box 562

Philadelphia, PA 19105

Thank you for your time and consideration! With love and rage, Matt B

[Donate Here]

In Contempt: June 11th Roundup; Analysis of Biden’s New Domestic Terrorism Document

from It’s Going Down

It’s been a busy month and there’s a lot to catch up on.

In this month’s column, we roundup what all went down on June 11th, offer an analysis of the Biden administration’s recent report on countering domestic terrorism, a roundup by state across the so-called US of repression news, info on current George Floyd rebellion prisoners, prison rebel birthdays, and more news.

Let’s dive in!

Repression Roundup by State

Pennsylvania

We Love Lore have provided a few updates on Lore Elisabeth Blumenthal, who’s now been incarcerated for a year awaiting trial on charges connected to last summer’s uprising. You can see some of her recent art here, and her family were able to visit her for the first time in eight months.

David Elmakayes, another Philadelphia defendant, is trying to raise money for a new lawyer, as the public defender allocated to him is trying to get him to inform. You should be able to donate to his funds via his mother’s CashApp, $NaughtNelly. Contact addresses for both Lore and David are listed below.

Vaughn 17

The Vaughn 17, the collective of prisoners who came together in the wake of the 2017 Vaughn uprising in Delaware, have issued a statement on abuse, neglect and solitary confinement at Pennsylvania’s SCI-Phoenix prison, and have also put out a new zine of their writings and analysis. A hunger strike aiming to address the issues highlighted has now begun at SCI-Phoenix, with some of the Vaughn 17 being among the participants.

Upcoming Events

Occupy ICE PDX have called for July 17th to be a nationwide day of actions against ICE and for the freedom of all immigrant prisoners. July 25th is observed internationally as a day of solidarity with antifascist prisoners.

Further ahead, Jailhouse Lawyers Speak are calling for abolitionist demonstrations under the slogan “Shut ‘Em Down 2021” on August 21st and September 9th. As mentioned above, reach out to Oakland Abolition and Solidarity if you’d like to get stickers to promote the events. Also, various international ABC groups observe August 23rd-30th as a week of solidarity with anarchist 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. The status of pre-trial defendants changes frequently, but to the best of our knowledge they currently include:

David Elmakayes 77782-066
FDC Philadelphia
PO BOX 562
Philadelphia, PA 19105

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

Birthdays

Corey Smith

A former Vaughn 17 defendant. While the state has now dropped its attempts to criminalize Corey Smith in relation to the uprising, the Vaughn 17 have faced continued retaliation. Years after the uprising, these prisoners are still being abused for staying in solidarity with one another against the state.

Birthday: July 14

Address:

The most recent Vaughn 17 zine just gives Corey Smith’s address as “Wilmington, DE”, suggesting that his current location is unknown – please feel free to reach out if you can confirm his address.

Kevin Berry

A former Vaughn 17 defendant. While the court found Kevin Berry not guilty on all charges in relation to the uprising, the Vaughn 17 have faced continued retaliation. Years after the uprising, these prisoners are still being abused for staying in solidarity with one another against the state.

Kevin Berry is a contributor to the Vaughn 17 “Live From the Trenches” zine, as well as the newer “United We Stood” zine, and also wrote a June 11th statement for the 2019 day of solidarity with long-term anarchist prisoners.

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 “NT0583.”

Birthday: July 17th

Address:

Smart Communications/PADOC
Kevin Berry, NT0583
SCI Phoenix
PO Box 33028
St Petersburg, FL 33733

 

One year

from We Love Lore

It’s been a year since Lore Elisabeth was taken from us. She was apprehended violently in her home, tortured for weeks, infected with COVID, denied medical care throughout, and fights to this day for access to her case files. Federal authorities have shown no interest in proving their case against her, nor have they allowed her to defend herself.

Lore-sparkle.gif

Thanks to you, she can still fight. In this past year, you have kept our beloved Lore going with your precious messages of love and solidarity; you kept the pressure on the Bureau of Prisons until she and her women’s unit got access to the vaccine; you showed your joy online and onsite where she could see and feel it; and you raised an absolutely essential fund for her legal defense.

Let’s show Lore that we still love and haven’t forgotten her. Please never stop supporting our friends and allies leading the fights against police violence and mass incarceration. Keep sending letters and photos! And you can always donate to Lore’s commissary fund via PayPal or Venmo @WeLoveLore for food, clothes, and essentials. We couldn’t do it without you 🌈🙏✨

Statement from the Vaughn 17

from Abolitionist Law Center

The following statement was issued in coordination with Philly Anti-Repression on June 1, 2021 by members of the Vaughn 17 and other incarcerated community members subjected to abuse, neglect, and solitary confinement at SCI-Phoenix.

For those who are new to the Vaughn 17’s struggle for self-liberation, here is some context: On February 1, 2017, incarcerated community members confined in Delaware’s largest prison, the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center, staged an uprising and took over Building C. Prisoners took guards hostage and called the media, bringing international attention to the prison’s overuse of solitary confinement and demanded humane living conditions, rehabilitation, and education programs. Phone negotiations lasted 18 hours between prisoners and prison officials.

One correctional officer died during the uprising and 18 prisoners were charged with multiple counts of murder, rioting, conspiracy and kidnapping. One of the original eighteen suspects in the rebellion turned and became the State’s star witness; another committed suicide.

Since 2017, participants of the Building C takeover, now known as “the Vaughn 17”, have endured ongoing retaliation by the State. This has included transfers across state lines to Pennsylvania and long-term solitary confinement under the euphemistic measures of “Intensive Management Units” and “Restricted Release”. Prolonged solitary confinement (more than 15 days) is considered torture by the United Nations.

To learn more about the Vaughn 17 visit: vaughn17.com and follow their supporters and defense group on Twitter and Instagram.

June 1, 2021

– The Vaughn 17

Philly man is arrested for allegedly torching cop car during the racial injustice protests last year

from Mainstream Media

Lester Fulton, who was arrested Thursday in Massachusetts, is the sixth person facing federal arson charges in connection with the racial injustice protests in Center City last spring.

Philadelphia police make a wall to block protestors from approaching a burning Pennsylvania State Police car near the intersection of Broad and Vine Streets during May 30, 2020, protests over the death of George Floyd.

A 26-year-old Philadelphia man on Thursday became the sixth person charged with setting police cars ablaze during last summer’s racial injustice protests in Center City.

FBI agents arrested Lester Fulton Smith, 26, in Massachusetts, where he was working, and accused him of playing a role in the arson of a Pennsylvania State Police car ignited by protesters demonstrating May 30 in response to the murder of George Floyd.

Authorities had already charged a Virginia man — Ayoub Tabri, 25 — with igniting the blaze using a road flare stolen from the vehicle.

Charging documents in Smith’s case were spare on details of what role prosecutors believe he played in the incident, whether investigators believe he coordinated with Tabri, or how he was identified by agents.

Prosecutors have said they first flagged Tabri — wearing a black mask and holding a skateboard in one hand and the lit flare in the other — from video shared on social media of the chaotic scene that unfolded that day near the intersection of Broad and Vine Streets, where State Police had amassed to keep the crowd of demonstrators off of I-676.

Two parked police cars came under attack from the crowd, which beat them with a scooter, a hammer, skateboards, a bike lock, crowbars, and hands and fists.

The lit flare Tabri is accused of throwing at one of the cars not only hit it but also a nearby state trooper, whose uniform caught fire, investigators said. The trooper later suffered burns to his hand while reaching into the burning vehicle to retrieve a rifle that had been stored inside.

FBI agents identified Tabri, a restaurant worker in Washington, D.C., by cross-referencing video from the scene with social media photos of the same man — without a mask — shot later outside City Hall.

Tabri confessed to setting the blaze upon his arrest in October, according to court filings in his case. Six others have been arrested on state vandalism charges in connection with the damage to the State Police vehicles.

In a statement Thursday, acting U.S. Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams drew a distinction between Smith and Tabri and the hundreds of “peaceful protesters” who demonstrated in Philadelphia that day.

“Here, the defendants allegedly destroyed a police vehicle, endangering many lives including police officers and peaceful protesters nearby,” she said. “This conduct is not free speech and is not protected by our constitution; rather, it is criminal.”

For his part, Smith looked exhausted while appearing Thursday for his first court appearance via Zoom from a federal detention center in Massachusetts. He yawned repeatedly, rubbing his eyes throughout the proceeding.

But he leaped out of his chair and mouthed “No,” when U.S. Magistrate Judge Marianne B. Bowler outlined a mandatory minimum seven-year prison sentence and maximum of 40 years he is facing should he be convicted on the two arson counts with which he has been charged.

Lawyers for others charged with igniting police vehicles in separate incidents May 30 have criticized the decision to charge them — like Smith and Tabri — under federal arson statutes because of that stiff mandatory penalty. They argue that protest-related acts of destruction belong in state court.

Smith will remain in custody pending a bail hearing in Worcester, Mass., scheduled for Wednesday, at which prosecutors have signaled they intend to seek his detention until trial.

An attorney had not been appointed to represent him on the charges in Philadelphia as of Thursday evening.

Four others face federal arson charges in connection with Philadelphia police cars ignited in separate incidents near City Hall that day.

They include prominent activist and social studies teacher Anthony “Ant” Smith, 30, and Khalif Miller, 25, both of Philadelphia, as well as Carlos Matchett, 31, of Atlantic City and Lore-Elisabeth Blumenthal, a 34-year-old massage therapist from Jenkintown.

All have denied the charges and are awaiting trials scheduled for later this year.

In Contempt #4

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.]

Welcome, to the fourth installation of In Contempt, a collection of updates and information in relation to state repression and counter-insurgency, especially in the wake of the George Floyd uprising last summer.

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. The status of pre-trial defendants changes frequently, but to the best of our knowledge they currently include:

Lore-Elisabeth Blumenthal #70002-066
FDC Philadelphia
P.O. Box 562
Philadelphia, PA 19105

David Elmakayes #77782-066
FDC Philadelphia,
PO Box 562,
Philadelphia, PA 19105

Shawn Collins #69989-066
FDC Philadelphia,
PO Box 562,
Philadelphia, PA 19105

Steven Pennycooke #69988-066
FDC Philadelphia,
PO Box 562,
Philadelphia, PA 19105

When writing to pre-trial prisoners, do not write about their cases or say anything that you wouldn’t want to hear read out in court. If you have any updates, either about status changes meaning that people should be removed from this list, or about names that are missing and should be included, please reach out.

Upcoming Birthdays

Abednego Baynes

A former Vaughn 17 defendant. Baynes was found innocent of all charges in relation to the uprising, but he has still been punished with a move out of state, and deserves respect and support for staying in solidarity with his codefendants throughout the process and refusing to cooperate with the prosecution. You can read more about Baynes in his own words here.

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 “NT0594.”

Birthday: May 20

Address:

Smart Communications/PADOC
Abednego Baynes, NT0594
SCI Phoenix
PO Box 33028
St Petersburg, FL 33733

Looking Ahead

Looking further ahead, June 11th is the international day of solidarity with long-term anarchist prisoners, and further ahead still, there’s the Jailhouse Lawyers Speak call for demonstrations on August 21st and September 9th, so you may want to start thinking about plans for those dates now.

FOIA reveals that the DEA was ‘infiltrating’ BLM protests last June

from Twitter

Pa. National Guard activated as Philly preps for potential unrest ahead of Derek Chauvin murder trial verdict

from mainstream media

Members of the National Guard stand in guard in front of the Philadelphia Municipal Services Building in Philadelphia, Pa. Friday, October 31, 2020.

Philadelphia officials and community leaders Friday outlined plans for increased emergency operations and law enforcement staffing, while Gov. Tom Wolf activated more than 1,000 Pennsylvania National Guard members to the city in preparation for any potential unrest following the verdict in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer charged in the killing of George Floyd.

At the request of the city, Wolf signed a proclamation of disaster Friday evening, activating the 1,000-plus state Guard members, to support “the current efforts in Philadelphia to protect our beloved neighbors and city.” The proclamation is effective for 90 days unless Wolf rescinds or extends it.

The activation of the Guard came after city leaders held a news conference Friday, saying they learned from the large-scale racial justice demonstrations and unrest in Philadelphia last spring following Floyd’s death, and have developed a “holistic plan” to address any aftermath of the landmark Chauvin verdict.

“Regardless of what may develop, I am confident that our department is prepared for whatever may come our way,” said Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw, standing in front of the Municipal Services Building — a flash point for conflict in 2020, where the statue of former mayor and police commissioner Frank Rizzo once stood, and where a mural highlighting Black Lives Matter protesters was later installed.

Last year, she said, ”while we made missteps along the way, we are committed to moving forward in a meaningful and productive manner.”

Closing arguments in the trial are set to begin Monday, with no timetable on when the verdict may be reached.

A review commissioned by Mayor JIm Kenney found that police were “simply not prepared” for the demonstrations that ensued in Philadelphia following Floyd’s death last May, where short staffing, lack of equipment, and insufficient planning had “cascading effects,” with “inordinate use” of tear gas and other less-lethal munitions by police and “at times, excessive force against protesters.”

This year, the Police Department is increasing staffing and canceling days off to ensure a presence across the city, “to enhance the protection of critical infrastructure, businesses, and neighborhoods,” Outlaw said. Beginning Saturday, the Office of Emergency Management will also be fully staffed every day for the next several weeks, said Director Adam Thiel.

The National Guard — which occupied Philadelphia for weeks last year following unrest after Floyd’s death and again in October after officers shot and killed Walter Wallace Jr. — is not in the city yet, Thiel said, but it is ready to deploy ”if needed.”

According to Wolf’s office, the Guard’s duties may include — but are not limited to — area security, manning traffic control points, and providing security at critical infrastructure sites. Citing security concerns, the office said that specific locations, numbers of troops, and locations could not be discussed.

Outlaw said that police have not ruled out using tear gas, rubber bullets, and other “less-lethal munitions,” but that they would not be fired “against peaceful demonstrators.” Following the tear-gassing of demonstrators on I-676 and residents in a West Philadelphia neighborhood, police implemented a moratorium on the munitions in June, and in November, Kenney signed a bill barring use of such devices “on any individual engaging in First Amendment Activities.”

Police intend to honor the moratorium and legislation, a spokesperson said.

Outlaw said the department would do “everything possible” to avoid disruptions, but that some streets may be closed to traffic.

“Things might look different in your neighborhoods over the coming days,” she said. “You will see officers on bikes, and some officers on foot. Some officers may be on horseback. You will even see some officers throughout the city, along with police clergy, offering prayer, opportunities for healing, and distributing City of Philadelphia resources. There’s even a chance that you will see a Pennsylvania National Guard soldier in your neighborhood. Please remember that they are all here to serve you.”

Officials encouraged residents to sign up for emergency updates by texting “ReadyPhila” to 888-777.

Ahead of the Chauvin verdict, the city will also assist in virtual “community healing circles” for residents to share their feelings and find support from neighbors, said Managing Director Tumar Alexander. He said the city is asking community leaders to hold their own events, and providing resources to encourage healing conversations offer support, and information on knowing your rights while protesting. Additionally, he said, business owners, volunteers, Town Watch Integrated Services, and the Office of Violence Prevention will “passively patrol the communities and commercial corridors … not as law enforcement, but just as citizens looking to engage other citizens and business owners.”

Some community and faith leaders also urged residents to refrain from destroying property in protest.

“We must be ready to embrace the opportunity to dig deeper to end racism, brutality, and injustice, we should embrace the right to protest to demand change,” said Sharmain Matlock Turner of the Urban Affairs Coalition. As the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,’” Turner added, but Dr. King “also gave us wisdom in our fight for justice saying, ‘Nonviolence is a powerful and just weapon. It is a sword that heals, which cuts without wounding and nobles those who wield it.’”

“Speak up, protest, but do not tear up,” said state Sen. Vincent Hughes (D., Phila.), recalling discussions with city business owners whose stores were damaged during unrest last year, some who never recovered.

In Minneapolis on Thursday, after nearly three weeks of testimony, Chauvin’s defense rested after he declined to take the stand.

Last week, miles from where the Chauvin trial was underway, police in a Minneapolis suburb shot and killed Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old Black man, leading to several nights of unrest. In Philadelphia, protesters marched through the city for justice for Wright, and more demonstrations are expected this weekend.