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.

Emails show DEA’s “covert surveillance” of racial justice protesters in Philadelphia, Chicago, Albuquerque

from Citizens for Responsibility & Ethics in Washington

Donald Trump walks with Bill Barr and members of the military out of a gated area

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

The Drug Enforcement Administration conducted “covert surveillance” on people protesting the killing of George Floyd last summer in Philadelphia, Chicago and Albuquerque, according to emails obtained by CREW. The operations involved the use of undercover DEA agents to “infiltrate” protests, social media monitoring and aerial surveillance by the DEA Air Wing.

Justice Department leadership authorized the surveillance efforts in May 2020, per a DEA memorandum revealed last year by BuzzFeed News. The decision—which significantly expanded the DEA’s law enforcement authority nationwide for 14 days—was decried by members of Congress and civil liberties advocates as an invasion of First Amendment rights.

Representatives Jerry Nadler and Karen Bass urged the Justice Department to “immediately rescind” the decision in a June 5 letter, calling it “unwarranted and antithetical to the American people’s right to peacefully assemble and to exercise their Constitutional rights without undue intrusion.”

The new emails, obtained by CREW as part of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, provide a glimpse into how the DEA utilized its expanded surveillance authority in three cities.

 

Philadelphia

In a June 2 email, the Philadelphia Police Department requested that DEA’s local Special Agent in Charge, Jonathan Wilson, assign agents to “infiltrate crowds” at protests “for intel purposes.”

Within 30 minutes, Wilson obtained approval from Principal Deputy DEA Administrator Preston Grubbs, the agency’s second highest ranking official, to conduct “covert surveillance from within protests in the city of Philadelphia” in order to “identify protest leaders,” among others.

A June 3 email from a Philadelphia police sergeant provided “operational information” for DEA agents assigned to surveil a protest later that day. The email instructed agents to download a “communications app” to carry out their “surveillance operation,” even though DEA “doesn’t normally use” the app. The name of the app is redacted in the emails released to CREW.

An attachment to the June 3 email titled “Philly Riot Suspects.pdf” is redacted in its entirety.

Another operational email instructed DEA agents to dress so they could “b[l]end in with the crowds. Masks and bag packs [sic] are a good idea.”

A June 4 email shows extensive social media monitoring of protests expected through the weekend, with event names such as “Peaceful March: South Street to City Hall,” “Mt. Airy Solidarity March,” “4th Annual Stop Killing Us (SKU) March to DC!,” “George Floyd – Peaceful protest,” and “Candle Light Vigil for Breonna Taylor.”

Another June 4 email shows that DEA’s surveillance operation continued at least through June 7. An Assistant Special Agent in Charge thanked agents for their “tireless[] dedication to this mission, along with the sweat and blisters.”

What You Should Know About PPD Recruiting Community Orgs

from Twitter & Twitter






A #FreeAnt Update

from Instagram

Photo by #FreeAnt on April 01, 2021. May be an image of text.Photo by #FreeAnt on April 01, 2021. May be an image of text that says '**ALSO** Some people are also fighting (nonsensical) charges from over the past year of action and are starting trial/ pretrial this month. If you know who those people are, continue to support them. Maybe more info on that will be available as time goes by. I'm not sharing any specific info about them unless they find it necessary to do so. I mean generally, support people dealing with the courts in this pandemic. It's a mess forreal. **don't speculate names, actions or trial details on this post or any others**'.

A #FreeAnt update directly from our dude. Thank you all so much for being with us and mobilizing community support for Ant through this whole process. We still have a long way to go and we appreciate all of your help as we continue to fight for all of the charges to be dropped. Continue to follow and support and share the posts on this page and look out for some necessary fundraising needs coming this way soon. #DropTheCharges

In Contempt #3: Calls to Action from Behind the Prison Walls, ‘Blockade Defense’ Campaign Launched

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

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

Mumia Abu-Jamal

Mumia is an award winning journalist and was one of the founders of the Black Panther Party chapter in Philadelphia, PA. He has struggled for justice and human rights for people of color since he was at least 14 years old; the age when he joined the Party. In December of 1982, Mumia, who moonlighted by driving a taxi, happened upon police who were beating his brother. During the melee, a police officer was shot and killed. Despite the fact that many people saw someone else shoot and then run away from the scene, Mumia, in what could only be called a kangaroo court, was convicted and sentenced to death. During the summer of 1995, a death warrant was signed by Governor Tom Ridge, which sparked one of the most effective organizing efforts in defense of a political prisoner ever. Since that time, Mumia has had his death sentence overturned, but still has a life sentence with no opportunity for parole.

Mumia has a number of health issues as a result of medical neglect while in prison, and was recently diagnosed with COVID, lending a new urgency to the ongoing campaign for his freedom.

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 Mumia as a contact by searching his name or “AM8335”.

Birthday: April 24

Address:

Smart Communications/PA DOC
Mumia Abu-Jamal #AM8335
SCI Mahanoy
Post Office Box 33028
St Petersburg, Florida 33733

Janiis Mathis

A former Vaughn 17 defendant. While the state has now given up on its attempts to charge Mathis in relation to the Vaughn uprising, he is facing continued retaliation, as he has been moved out of state to Pennsylvania, where many Vaughn defendants are being held on lockdown indefinitely (via placement on PA’s Restricted Release List) on vague and questionable grounds. Years after the uprising, these prisoners are still being abused for staying in solidarity with one another against the state.

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 “NU0423”.

Birthday: April 24

Address:

Smart Communications / PA DOC
Janiis Mathis – NU0423
SCI Greene
PO Box 33028
St. Petersburg, FL, 33733

FTP Banner and Communique from Revolutionary Abolitionists in Harrisburg, PA

Submission

To our comrades in Philadelphia, Rockford and across the so-called United States,

In the wake of the election and the subsequent putsch on the Capitol, the establishment and media apparatus have set out to douse memory of the multi-racial insurgency that spread across the country last summer and dampen the social contradictions that lead to it with slogans of calm and unity. Harrisburg was not been exempt from this revisionist trend in the slightest. During the summer, grifters and Black counter insurgents tried to funnel the long growing discontent into dead end electoralism and the bureaucratic machinations that grind the ember of revolutionary change in their gears at any given opportunity. In spite of this, the community rose up in defiance of both law enforcement and their neoliberal lapdogs in ways that have not been seen here in recent memory – cop cars smashed, streets shut down and police forced into retreat by a hail of bricks and debris.

As the heat of the summer lowered (relatively) to a tempered simmer and the electoral distraction served its role as sociological vacuum, the city’s leadership set its agenda on almost completely ignoring the events of the past year in order to return to some prelapsarian concept of normal – (a state which if it existed would be an amoral hellpit by any honest summation)- the exception of course, being their ongoing plan of repression against the true revolutionaries who participated in the uprising. At writing, there remains many ongoing struggles in the courts for the freedom of participants charged for their participation in the protests, both in Harrisburg and elsewhere. This is particularly disheartening as the loss of momentum of the movement from the summer means individual cases are harder to rally around, making intercommunal support from committed radicals that much more important.

Congruently, the local prison system has been revealed as the cauldrons of deathrot we have always known them to be. As Covid cases spike, the prison refuses to provide hand sanitizer, soap, masks and other lifesaving supplies to its inmates, resulting in the languishing of dozens of incarcerated people. What’s worse, there have been recent reports of widespread sexual abuse of inmates by guards, as well as many other violations of dignity, aided by an M.O. cultivated by deposed Warden Brian Clark, a well documented sex pest in his own right.
We are not liberals. We are appalled but not shocked by the injustice system acting as it always has no matter what century, context or administration – forever a punitive apparatus to repress the colonized and exploited for the benefit of a racist carceral state. Whether a red or blue chain, the shackle remains the same. Recognition of this basic fact informs our work building a culture of resistance to the inevitable crackdown on abolitionists and revolutionaries by the neoliberal state operating in the name of “fighting extremism”.

We believe that times like this, the seeming lulls between mass protests, uprisings and other sparks of civil unrest are as ,and possibly even more important than those moments of social fissure and are probably not even be so neatly disconnected as they may be initially perceived. It is of the upmost importance that we are expanding our networks, supporting our comrades , and deepening our roots in the communities we live in order to create a movement capable of not only sustaining itself in the calm, but also protecting itself when the pigs come knocking. This means building community defense councils and war chests to support our accomplices kidnapped and harassed by the State through every stage of their struggle. It is equally important to deny space and momentum to obvious opportunists and collaborators who attempt to swallow the flame of radical change through cooptation and subterfuge with the intent to isolate radicals and those members of the community willing to take justice into their own hands. This commitment lives and dies on solidarity with those most affected, and this communique is an representation of that commitment.

We unfurled this banner calling for the end to abuse of prisoners in Dauphin County Prison and mass release of all incarcerated in the death camps of Pennsylvania and across the United Snakes. We also want to uplift the connected struggle of the #FreeAnt movement, in order to echo the many voices calling for dropped charges for all and add to the cacophony of dissent against the police state. Finally, we uplift the demands of the Black Philly Radical Collective to for the immediate release of Mumia Abu Jamal, Major Tillery, Arthur Cetawayo Johnson, Russell “Maroon” Shoatz, Omar Askia, Joseph “Jo-Jo” Bowen, and all Black Political Prisoners.

We demand that all protestors across the country be granted amnesty. All charges must be dropped. We have unconditional solidarity to all rebels, radicals and revolutionaries facing State repression.

Free Them All.

Fuck DCP, Fuck Warden Clark and Fuck 12 Forever

Say no to the new Cointelpro!

Black Liberation Now.

Fire to the Prisons, Set the Captives Free.

In Contempt #2

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.]

Biden Administration Continuing Program to End Mail in Federal Prisons

Alec Karakatsanis of the Civil Rights Corps has highlighted that the Biden administration shows no sign of ending a Trump-era program aiming to replace all postal mail to Federal prisons with scanned and printed copies.

Alec writes:

From what we can tell so far: Biden admin transition team chose to keep this Trump pilot program to begin end physical mail in BOP, as is already happening in cruelest state prisons. It was probably easiest for Biden transition team to keep the company’s contract: these companies are powerful, BOP wants to surveil prisoner mail, they don’t care about families and prisoners, and b/c not enough people hold them accountable politically for this. Our staff still being barred from sending physical mail to a BOP institution and forced to send to this company–appears that BOP allows wardens to opt into or out of the pilot program. We are all so desensitized to this stuff that we don’t even recognize that, in a reasonable world, Biden transition would have immediately announced investigation and end to this profiteering instead of quietly continuing the contract that allows wardens to expand it. Keep in mind: Biden issued very mild (insufficient) order re: private prisons but didn’t touch all of the rampant profiteering inside and related to *public* prisons.

Although there’s not much coverage of this issue at the moment, it’s worth learning from the effects of the same policy when it was instituted in Pennsylvania, as covered in outlets such as The Appeal and Mother Jones. There, resistance to the policy included a number of lawsuits and a series of protests by families and outside supporters.

Call to Action from Jailhouse Lawyers Speak and Beyond

It’s Going Down has a reportback from the National Freedom Day actions calling for mass releases. Dreaming Freedom Practicing Abolition is calling for people to help defend their comrade Stevie Wilson against retaliation from staff. The Prisons Kill project is fundraising for Tim, who was released recently and needs re-entry support, and for Mustafa, a revolutionary prisoner in Ohio who needs help paying for legal funds. The Final Straw has just put out an interview with Perilous Chronicle about their work recording prisoner resistance during the pandemic.

A few notable upcoming dates: As noted above, Malik’s defense crew are holding a rally in the Tenderloin (in San Francisco) on March 7th, March 8th is International Working Women’s Day, which is observed in some countries as a women’s strike, and March 15th is observed in some countries as a day against police brutality, so you or your crew might want to organize something for one of those days. Further ahead, there’s a call for a day of actions focused on parole on April 3rd, and further ahead still, Jailhouse Lawyers Speak have issued the following call:

Nationwide call to action: August 21st, 2021 and September 9th, 2021 in the spirit of Abolition please clear your schedules to organize demos at your local jails and prisons. Time to raise the awareness levels during these dates. A full Jailhouse Lawyers Speak statement will be forthcoming!

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. Also, as this column was going to print, a post on Philly Anti-Capitalist brought our attention to the case of Anthony Smith in Philadelphia. Info on how to support them here. 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

Support the #FreeAnt Movement

from Instagram

Photo by #FreeAnt on February 24, 2021. May be a cartoon of text.

We appreciate y’all’s support so much and we know it’s been a long road already, but we still have a ways to go before we can #dropthecharges and truly #freeant. We’ve added a linktree in the bio so you can more easily find all of our links to support and please save/share/engage with these graphics so that a.) our community can know how and where to best support Ant and b.) we can mass share with y’all that we have new modes of donating (we heard the requests to have more than PayPal), an updated/new PayPal link, and a Twitter that is now live! . Thank you all again for everything you’ve done already and will continue to do. Having Ant with us is the best feeling and we need him here in our community free of all charges so that he can continue to support his people who rely on him and love him, continue to support our youth, and continue to support our movements as an irreplaceable and beloved member of our neighborhoods. And as always, we name that Ant is not an isolated victim of state and carceral oppression and we stand in solidarity with other political prisoners and incarcerated folks, so when we say #FreeEmAll know we mean that. Let’s Gooooooo!

Defend Stevie Against Violent Retaliation!

from Dreaming Freedom Practicing Abolition

Image: “Bars 1” by Josh MacPhee, thanks to JustSeeds. Description: Black background, with white bars bent and broken in the middle.

Stephen Wilson, a Black queer abolitionist organizer and a prisoner of the state of Pennsylvania, is once again facing retaliation, harassment, and repression at SCI-Fayette. A rank-and-file prison cop named Digiacomo, who has for months made a habit of targeting Stevie, recently had Stevie sent to solitary confinement (the hole) on a completely fabricated and un-corroborated write-up. The prison’s official kangaroo judicial theater predictably backed up cowboy cop Digiacomo, and sentenced Stevie to 30 days’ time in the hole. Now, following the fantastic allegations of the write-up, they argue that Stevie is a danger to the population at Fayette, and they plan to transfer Stevie. If it could happen right away, Stevie would welcome a transfer away from Digiacomo and Fayette’s abuse. But here’s the thing: the PA-DOC’s prison transfer queues are backed up for months, which means that Stevie’s 30 days in the hole has been extended indefinitely through a procedural and logistical loophole.

This most recent fabricated write-up from Digiacomo accuses Stevie of verbally threatening another prisoner. That person, along with everyone else in ear shot during the time when Digiacomo says this supposedly happened, denies ever having been threatened in any way by Stevie. Stevie, very familiar with the prison’s internal hearing process, called four witnesses well in advance of his hearing. Yet Stevie was denied this right by the hearing examiner, who cited the logistical inconvenience of bringing the witnesses a few hundred feet to the hearing. Stevie replied by suggesting that the examiner herself visit the block and ask the witnesses what happened, to which the hearing examiner said that even if she did that, she would still believe Digiacomo. Then she suggested that, by the prison’s hearing rules, she would be required to take the guard’s word over a prisoner’s. Or 5 prisoners, in this case.

Pretending to be doing Stevie a big favor, the hearing examiner promised to transfer Stevie to a new block after his time in the hole, to separate him from Digiacomo. The examiner seems to have remembered the history of Digiacomo’s one-sided obsessive harassment of Stevie. The hearing examiner had commented on this months earlier, at another hearing, when she said to Stevie, “Wow, he [DiGiacomo] really has it in for you.” This writeup, now resulting in what amounts to a conviction in the twisted internal prison hearing system, could keep Stevie locked up well past his minimum by giving an already hostile parole board an easy excuse to defer his release. It must be reversed and removed from his record.

In the short term, thanks to the backed up transfer schedule, Stevie could be looking at half a year in solitary confinement. That means no yard, one short call a week, literally no time out of cell, no access to the prison’s email service,  no commissary, no human interaction (unless you count guards), dangerously cold temperatures, and an all-day blaring TV set to some vapid news reports on loop. Officially, Stevie’s maximum time in the hole is 30 days. This is due to a weak limit put in place for people who, for mental health reasons, are deemed especially vulnerable to the psychological (and physical) terror of solitary confinement. When we asked him about the indeterminate solitary sentence being in violation of this limit, he said “in the end, they can do whatever they want.”

Blatantly maneuvering around their own pathetically inadequate rules (even according to their own logic), SCI-Fayette has consolidated its efforts to isolate and separate Stevie. The process was initiated by an angry guard known by prisoners and some guards alike as an especially violent and out of control goon, and it was completed through the administrative hearing system. Finding yet another way to weaponize the virus that runs rampant through PA-DOC’s compounds, Fayette has Stevie locked in the hole on a sentence so indeterminate that it isn’t officially recognized as a sentence at all. His release from the hole is not pending approval by a board or the expiration of the term, but some future logistical solution to the transfer backlog, who knows when. The cops at SCI-Fayette have exemplified the prison’s reaction to the perceived threat of prisoner activism and organization, employing a combination of acutely racist and personal hostility, mindless bureaucratic procedure, and “factors” claimed to be “out of their control.”

Last time Stevie was sent to the hole, which was also an act of retaliation by Digiacomo, Stevie was abruptly grabbed and hauled down there with no time to prepare his things. The prison failed to deliver his blood pressure medicine for almost two weeks, putting him at serious risk of stroke. In the process of being transferred he was stripped of his eyeglasses and his partial denture. The glasses took over a month to replace, impairing his ability to see and read in the interim, and his partial has yet to be replaced, over 2 months later. As a result, he still has difficulty eating and reports having dropped weight.

These acts of violent retaliation against Stevie are not exceptional. They are almost quotidian reactions of the prison system against anyone who dares engage in such radical practices as speaking with other prisoners about prison abolition, convening reading and study groups, telling people outside about the conditions inside, and, perhaps most offensive to the Fayette regime, using the prison’s own grievance system. It is vital that we respond to and really oppose retaliation against Stevie, and everyone inside who puts their health, safety, and—thanks to the indeterminacy of ranged sentences and the absolutely bankrupt parole system—freedom on the line. Below are some actions that we are asking you to take to get Stevie’s back. More are coming soon.

  1. Look out for phone zaps–actions where we flood the guards with calls to let them know that Stevie has strong, informed outside support. The first one will be later this week.
  2. Call in starting now. These are ongoing scripted calls to the main PA-DOC office, to let them know what’s happening at Fayette and (more importantly) to let them know people are following Stevie’s struggle against repression. These are not like calls to electeds–we are not asking for a vote or a favor. Prisons operate on the experience-based assumption that no one outside knows what’s happening inside. Calls break that assumption, and can really help force small actions on the parts of administrations and guards. 
  3. Email PA-DOC. Here is a template email.
  4. Write to Stevie. Send him articles, poems, artwork, and words of encouragement. These help support him personally, and they show the prison the depth of his support out here.

Smart Communications / PA-DOC // Stephen Wilson LB8480 // SCI-Fayette // PO Box 33028 // St Petersburg, FL 33733

  1. Donate to our book and commissary fund and help us send books to people inside so that we can keep up some of Stevie’s political education work while he is in the hole. Comment “books”

Venmo: @SolidarityMachine

CashApp: $SolidarityMachine

Description: Stevie is standing in front of some glass block in a prison visiting room. He is wearing a brown button down shirt and dark brown pants, tan boots, hands in his pockets and looking at the camera.

In Contempt: A Column On Repression and the Rebels Pushing Back

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 In Contempt, a new column based on the existing prison rebels birthday listing, but expanded into a more general look at repression and other relevant news from a prison abolitionist perspective. Here’s a few things that have been going on over the last month or so let’s dive 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. The status of pre-trial defendants changes frequently, but to the best of my 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.

Birthdays and Other Days of Note

A few notable upcoming dates: there’s a call for mass clemency on Feb 1st as “national freedom day.” February 6th is observed as the international day of solidarity with Leonard Peltier. Further ahead, there’s a call for a day of actions focused on parole on April 3rd.

Upcoming Birthdays

Deric Forney

A former Vaughn 17 defendant. While Deric was acquitted in court of all charges in relation to the uprising, he is facing continued retaliation, as he has been moved out of state to Pennsylvania, where many Vaughn defendants are being held on lockdown indefinitely (via placement on PA’s Restricted Release List) on vague and questionable grounds. Years after the uprising, these prisoners are still being abused for staying in solidarity with one another against the state.

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 “NS2698”.

Birthday: February 6

Address:

Smart Communications / PA DOC
Deric Forney – NS2698
SCI Coal Township
PO Box 33028
St. Petersburg, FL, 33733

Luis Sierra (Abdul-Haqq El-Qadeer)

A former Vaughn 17 defendant. While the state has now dropped its attempts to criminalize Abdul in relation to the uprising, Vaughn defendants continue to face retaliation. Abdul is also a contributor to “Live from the Trenches,” the Vaughn 17 zine.

Delaware appears not to have an inmate email system.

Birthday: February 19

Address:

Luis Sierra #00455723
James T. Vaughn Correctional Center
1181 Paddock Rd
Smyrna, DE 19977

 

A second antifascist was visited by the FBI

from Instagram

A second antifascist was visited by the FBI in Philadelphia yesterday. Well, sort of. The weird thing is the FBI wasn’t even looking in the right ‘state’ as the person they were seeking out lives in New Jersey. That’s some real Grade A police work! Anyway. The state is up to something – possibly in collaboration with far right conspiracy theories that ‘antifa’ had something to do with the right wing violence on January 6th. News flash: ‘antifa’ had nothing to do with that whole shitshow, that scene was a wholly white supremacist riot. Be safe friends, MAKE SECURITY CULTURE YOUR #1 PRIORITY. They are only trying to intimidate us – don’t let them – be brave!

Up Against The Law On FBI Visits

from Twitter

If the FBI visits your home asking to identify far right perps in DC, remember you don’t have to answer any questions. Our networks say this is a pattern all over the country. You do not know what they’re actually looking for. Ask for their business card and contact us

Not in Philly? Contact your local anti repression network or a lawyer familiar with federal cases. Your lawyer will be able to contact them safely. Do not answer any questions without a lawyer present.

[Up Against The Law contact information:
(484) 758-0388
upagainsthelawlc@gmail.com
upagainstthelaw.org
]

Anti-Fascist Comrade Visited By FBI

from Twitter

[This afternoon, January 15 2021, an anti-fascist comrade was visited by two FBI agents at their home in Philadelphia.

The agents said they had questions about the recent events at the Capitol. The comrade refused to answer questions & immediately got in touch with legal & anti-repression support. We don’t rely on the state to address fascist threats. The FBI has roots in repressing anarchist and Black liberation movements. We do not trust that they are only investigating the events at the Capitol. We challenge their attempts at repression with our collective refusal to speak to law enforcement.

If you are contacted by the FBI or other law enforcement, contact Up Against The Law or Philly Anti-Repression.

Up Against The Law: 484-758-0388
Philly Anti-Repression: 267-460-1886]

Political Prisoners and Prison Rebel Birthdays for January

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.]

Inspired by the spirit of the Political Prisoners Birthday crew, here’s a short listing of some rebel prisoners who have upcoming birthdays in January.

For an an introduction on how to write to prisoners and some things to do and not to do, go here. If you have the time, please also check IWOC’s listing of prisoners facing retaliation for prison strike-related organizing.

Wishing a very happy birthday to Jeremy Hammond, who will be celebrating in freedom this month! Please keep sending mail and books to Eric King, who’s off his mail ban for now but may end up being hit with another one soon. Chicano anarchist political prisoner Xinachtli is coming up for parole in the new year, you can find details on how to support his application at the end of this recent article he wrote. There are a number of ongoing clemency campaigns that could use some support, including ones for the aging political prisoners Russell Maroon Shoatz, Ed Poindexter, and David Gilbert. Two of the Kings Bay Plowshares 7 have just begun prison sentences, with others expecting sentencing soon. Mumia Abu Jamal has won a victory in court against an attempt to replace his prosecutor with an even harsher and more vicious one, although his road to freedom remains long and difficult.

In international news, 22 anarchist groups from around the world have issued a joint statement in solidarity with the prisoners from the 2019 revolt in Chile. January 22nd is the Trans Prisoner Day of Action and Solidarity, so you may want to think about doing something for that.

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 my 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

Finally, much as I hate to see even more of our lives and communications being enclosed by tech companies, it seems inescapable at the moment, so for anyone who doesn’t want to leave their house to buy stamps/cards/envelopes or to send mail, a reminder that many prisoners can be contacted electronically, via Jpay or similar services.

Joseph “Joe-Joe” Bowen

Black Liberation Army (BLA) Prisoner of War, serving two life sentences for the assassination of a prison warden and deputy warden, as well as an attempted prison break which resulted in a five-day standoff.

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 “AM-4272”.

Birthday: January 15

Address:

In 2018, the PA Dept of Corrections instituted a restrictive mail policy where all mail to prisoners must be sent through a mail processing facility in Florida where all correspondence is scanned, copied and then the copy is mailed to the prisoner. There is an active campaign to get Gov. Wolf to repeal the restrictive policy so that friends and family members can send mail such as greeting cards again.

Smart Communications/PADOC
Joseph Bowen #AM-4272
SCI Fayette
P.O. Box 33028
St. Petersburg, FL 33733
United States

Police Scanner Transcription December 31, 2020

(Below is a message from someone who was listening to the scanner during the new year’s eve noise demonstration. It’s being published to give an idea of how police responded to the demonstration, hopefully we can learn from their response and better understand their tactics.)

Listened to scanner on two channels: city wide and 6th district, where the federal detention center is located.

At 8:27 PM, a report of a group of about 50 protesters outside the federal building at 7th and Arch.

Cop 1: Should I send for backup?
Cop 2: Yeah, we’re sending some bike officers from the 9th district your way.
Cop 1: Okay.
Cop 3: Yeah, these guys do this every year. They make a lot of noise and shoot fireworks. It doesn’t get violent.
Cop 4: Okay, we’re staging backup around city hall by 15th and market in case you need them.
Cop 5: It looks like an-teefa. Wearing all black, they got their faces covered, some of em carrying hammers.
Cop ?: You said hammers?
Cop 5: Yeah, they all got hammers.

About one minute later:
(All the cops are ? in this part so they are all labelled as cop without a number)

Cop: We’re gonna need backup, they’re smashing windows. They busted out the windows of a cruiser.
Cop: Okay, where at?
Cop: Around 7th and Arch. They’re moving now.
Cop: Okay, see if you can follow them.
Cop: Yeah, they’re smashing more windows now. Storefronts.
Cop: All right move in on them.
Cop: Woowww…
Cop: All right, I’m giving an order to arrest on sight.
Cop: Where are they now? Does anyone have eyes on them?
Cop: Yeah, the split up. Most of em are headed westbound on Arch and some of them went north on 8th toward Chestnut.
Cop: Okay, I’m diverting all highway units to that area.
Cop: Can we get more cars in that area, see how many of them we can pick up?
Cop: Yeah, I’m gonna say between 7th and 10th and Arch and Chestnut, we want all nearby available units patrolling that area looking for them.
Cop: Can someone check social media too, start seeing if you can find anything about this?
Cop: I’m on it.
Cop: Does anyone have eyes on them?
Cop: Yeah, I’m following a few right now.
Cop: You can arrest on sight, go in.
Cop: All right.
Cop: I’m driving up Chestnut, I don’t see any sign of them.
Cop: Okay. Maybe we can get in touch with SEPTA, see if they got any reports of a large group of people in black enter a subway.
Cop: Yeah, there’s a subway entrance on 8th and Chestnut.
Cop: I got one arrested here. Male. Where do you want me to take him?
Cop: Just hold him there for now. Can someone get in touch with the federal building?
Cop: Did they damage done on federal property?
Cop: Yeah, two windows at the federal building smashed.
Cop: All right. Someone send an officer over there to talk with them, see what they wanna do.
Cop: We can pull footage from the city cameras around the area, see if we can get any video of them getting out of cars, get their plates…
Cop: Does anyone know where they are now?
Cop: I don’t see them.
Cop: My guys don’t see any sign of them.
Cop: SEPTA officer reported a large group of juveniles boarded the train at 8th and Chestnut. But they were headed eastbound…
Cop: (disappointed) Okay…
Cop: I just spoke with a very nice man from the federal building who said the they’ll handle the booking.
Cop: Okay, they wanna handle the booking. Take anyone you pick up to the federal building.
Cop: We got two prisoners here, two females. Taking them there now.

A few minutes later, approximately 8:45:

Cop: Any sign of them?
Cop: Yeah, I got three individuals detained in a lot over by 7th and Sansom now.

Got interrupted after that by a phone call and stopped listening.