I really can’t believe I’m two years into this little blog and solo project. Two years since I walked away from all of the organizations I was involved with, organizations very dear to my heart, and tried to be my own animal. It honestly doesn’t seem like that long ago. Especially because I would have imagined accomplishing and producing much more by now. But life is not all about accomplishing and producing. And transitions take time and energy. And every little animal is different and must find its own little way.

First on my blog to-do list is to rewrite my mission statement and I might as well start now, thinking out loud here. When I started doing this I had a lot to prove.  I was irritated by the lack of mutual respect, communication, and willingness to change,  in my little corner of the anti-prison community and I was self-conscious about quitting. I wanted to show everyone I could just as well or better running a website, sending donations, keeping up with visits and letters, by myself. That’s why the initial framework sets through the walls up as if it’s an authority on political prisoner  support. Which it isn’t.

“I AM NO NOBODY”S SIDE BECAUSE NOBODY IS ON MY SIDE” — Treebeard, the Two Towers?, J.R.R. Tolkien, SOURCE: quickmeme.com

Obviously, in retrospect, those initial ideas seem very childish and silly. Very quickly the isolation, the feeling of being misunderstood, the heartbreak of giving up on organizations I thought I’d be with forever, the nursing of wounds of betrayal and disappointment, the martyr complex, it all started to catch up to me.  I suddenly felt very empathetic with others who had fallen off the activist perch. I felt empathetic with others who felt uncomfortable in activist spaces or who didn’t know how to begin. Or who were trying to build a way of relating to movement work that was more inter-generational, more inclusive, less burnout-martyr inclined. I wanted to throw in my lot with others who may also feel lost like I did.

Now I was ready to be a leading innovator of new sensitive approaches and of course the first step was to read and absorb as much as I could from others I identified as leaders in these fields. Trouble was, the more I learned the less I knew. I found people, bodies of knowledge, tendencies that I had been ignoring because of my narrow focus. I found lots of people were way of ahead me. I found myself in a period of listening, questioning, learning and in the process feeling so humbled and novicey that I didn’t have a lot to contribute to the conversations.  And simultaneously my self-exploration and self-affirmation as a genderqueer femme on the feminine spectrum has continued to deepen and grow, which is distracting and unsettling and focus-shifting and terrible and great and whatevs.

[IMAGE DESCRIPTION: CLOSE-UP OF AN ADORABLE RED PANDA CUB PEAKING THROUGH THE BRANCHES OF A TREE. TEXT READS, “MY GENDER IS MY BUSINESS!”] SOURCE: http://antioppressivebabyanimals.com/

All this time I’ve been treading water as a former swimmer and diver in a broader and shifted version of my old pp/pow supporter community, mostly keeping up with letters, visits, donations, campaign work, events but slowly and not as easily. There is always something I’m meaning to post on throughthewalls.org and often I am behind and by the time I’m ready to post, the topic is no longer considered current news. Twitter sometimes steals the show. That’s where I am current and topical! I encourage everyone who reads this blog to follow me on twitter (@throughwallsny) but I know, not everyone reading uses twitter and that’s okay.

Anyway, click here if you’d like and you can see my first post.  You can observe that I meant to post in tandem with a series of anniversaries (May Day, Cinco de Mayo, Mother’s Day, anniversary of Bobby Sands’ death on hunger strike, anniversary of the bombing of the MOVE house in Philadelphia) and I was late for all of them! I think it’s nice that I wove them together a little bit and I like the personal, vulnerable tone and sentiment. I don’t think I should have tried to keep up with anniversaries. I could spend all my blogging time trying to keep up with current prisoner news, anniversaries, events, etc but for what? There are clearly many better sources for all of that online (see my Blogroll and News sections on the side).  I have been wrestling with vague ideas about a way forward for my own work and I think some of it might benefit others as well. I have felt too in between things to write about it. Also the internet has brought out my shyness! I am not interested in starting drama writing about people and organizations in small communities, who I know, and who know me, and risking saying something wrong and/or being misunderstood. I don’t want to be oppressive, offensive, or disrespectful if I can help it. I don’t want to spread any of my negative or self-defeating feelings. I don’t want to say things that others have already said.

But I can’t believe I’ve been stewing for two years! I think I need to shit or get off the pot. I think I need to start doing what I set out to do and speak my mind. Sometimes I am too nervous about what I might say but I at least need to be scribbling in notebooks and work out at least what do I think, then maybe I can decide what to show the world.

Janelle Monae lyrics poster design by Monique Sterling http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/3.0/

I want through the walls to go in a more personal direction and I know that’s gonna turn some people off but I think it’s gotta be kinda like my first post: this is lost burnt out little me, slipping but doing my best, trying to figure out how to be part of meaningful struggle throughout my life– and/or how to contribute to the foundations of movements that can include more kinds of people for more of their lives. My favorite posts I’ve done so far are reflective ones.

Dean Spade, CeCe McDonald, and Reina Gossett #NoOneisDisposable

I recently got the chance to see CeCe McDonald, as well as Reina Gossett and Dean Spade in a live #NoOneisDisposable conversation and  it was so so affirming and amazing, especially so good seeing CeCe out of prison and feeling her attitude and energy. CeCe said something that I know is cliché but it really resonated in me: something like, you gotta do you. You can’t be living for someone else’s expectations. Gonna see what I can do with me.

As Family and Friends of Daniel McGowan, NYC Anarchist Black Cross, and Victoria Law have been reminding me online, time is running out to submit comments to the Bureau of Prisons about their nefarious Communication Management Units (CMUs)! Comments must be submitted on or before the 25th and today is the 24th!

I have been having trouble getting hardly anything done lately but I finally finished submitting my comments today. If you are reading this blog, there is a good chance you are also concerned about unconstitutional and discriminatory prison units and don’t want to miss this chance to speak your mind and make a difference.

It is ideal to put your comment in your own words but since we are running out of time, I thought I’d share mine below in case it give you inspiration or something to riff off of or just helps you think about it and get started. Please don’t copy word for word because that won’t necessarily help the cause. You are awesome for reading and caring and speaking out!

————————–

To Whom It May Concern:

I am writing to express my concern over the ongoing establishment of the Communications Management Units (CMUs) that are being run by the BOP in Terre Haute, Indiana and Marion, Illinois.  I read the proposed rule that was published in the Federal Register on April 6, 2010, and was troubled not only by the conditions and policies proposed in that rule, but also by existing practices at the CMUs in 2010.  The CMUs are needlessly punitive to families, have been used disproportionately against Muslims, and violate basic constitutional protections. This was true in 2010 during the first comment period and it is still true now in 2014.

Unlike other BoP facilities, the CMUs have a lack of due process. The inmates have no real review process by which they can be transferred out of the CMU. This is especially troubling given the fact that it isn’t clear why they are in the unit in the first place. Given that the inmates are overwhelmingly Muslim and many inmates are politically outspoken individuals, the CMU units under the proposed rules are not only unfair to the CMU inmates, the rules also amount to discrimination against Muslims and others in BoP custody.

I can personally attest that the current restrictions on communication for CMU inmates serve to curtail the inmate’s connection to family and community. It is a well-documented fact that communication with family and community are crucial for an inmate’s successful rehabilitation to life in society, not to mention the general well being of inmate and family alike.

As an American who is concerned about maintaining the constitutional freedoms of this country, it is unsettling to see the BoP create a unit first and go through the correct procedure afterwards. To make matters worse, the BoP did this and then sat on the public comments for four years, only now reopening them during to try to placate concerns voiced in a lawsuit. As far as I can tell, this is not a lawful unit and is not making positive contributions to public safety. It should be closed and the inmates should be transferred out into regular units and/or released.

I trust you will take the above concerns into consideration regarding the proposed rule.  Thank you for your concern and for the action you will take.

A lot of good news has happened since I last updated this blog. Some people have gotten out of jails and prisons! Some of you know everything already, some of you don’t. But let me share some news and thoughts . . .

Lynne Stewart was released from federal prison on compassionate release!!!! They wanted her to die in prison but she didn’t!! It was all the petitions, emails, calls, protests, interviews, events, talking, blogging, tweeting, posting! Yes! Stuff we do all the time! Stuff we sometimes feel like it never works! This time it was done with a lot of passion, love, and fury. There were several rounds of appealing to authority that never worked until it did. Lynne became a person with cancer that people wanted to help, circumstances alligned, and the feds gave her back to us. These victories still happen!

Now let’s send Lynne Stewart a valentine. She is out because of us. In prison, without effective treatment, the breast cancer spread to her lung, back, bones, and lymph nodes. She will begin new treatments that requre copays and deductables, as well as complimentary medicine that will require payment. As of now there are only 42 hours, and counting, left to be part of the fundraising campaign to help Lynne in the next stage of her struggle.

Send Lynne Stewart a Valentine!

URGENT ACT OF SOLIDARITY AND LOVE TO PAY FOR LYNNE STEWART’S IMMEDIATE MEDICAL NEEDS

CeCe McDonald was released from prison!!! Okay, her release was not exactly a victory as she served out her sentence and was released. But I am looking at her support, her survival, and the way she and her supporters raised awareness to some of the struggles faced by trans women of color, particularly intersectional violence and the prison industrial complex. She served her sentence in a male prison and refused offers from her awesome friends at trans youth support network to advocate for her to be transferred to a female prison. She went on TV, on the Melissa Harris-Perry show, and said “Prisons aren’t safe for anyone, and that’s the key issue.”

And this is an ongoing thing.

Click here and help fund FREECeCe, a documentary produced by Laverne Cox and and Jac Gares: “Told from the voices of Laverne Cox and CeCe McDonald (exclusive interview shot in St. Cloud Correctional Facility) FREE CeCe examines the culture of violence experienced by trans women of color.”

Jerry Koch was released from federal jail!!! He endured and beat the grand jury by saying and showing all along that he had no intention of betraying his community and his beliefs. That did it. And the support for him did it. “Jerry Koch spent 8 months in jail in New York City for refusing to testify before a federal grand jury. But a district court judge has ruled that imprisonment only strengthened the anarchist’s resolve, and the court had no choice but to release him.”

And this just in from NYC ABC:
“After twenty months of imprisonment, antifascist political prisoner John Tucker is free. John is the second of the Tinley Park Five to be released and he’s written a thank you letter to his supporters.”

An excerpt:
“For so much I am thankful for the supporters, but of greatest importance was the solidarity. Your constant stream of letters and cards not only kept myself sane, but also gave tangible, physical proof of solidarity which revealed the tremendous weight of the conviction of people from the real world who likewise are willing to make a stand against the far too often accepted evils of the world, to an incarcerated populace who had often not heard of such people before. The attention brought by the constant stream of mail peaked curiosity and drove many to question what was going on. This in turn lead to discussions, which in turn lead to some longer discussions that I hope have made a difference in at least a few lives over the course of my stint of incarceration.”

So, you know, I often feel discouraged lately as I’m sure many of you do too. And becomes very hard to keep doing the things I used to always do trying to look out for people, in and out of prison, who are trying to look out for people, while so often it seems to lead nowhere and we disappoint each other and ourselves. It is cold out. So I am trying to hold onto these victories and these releases, and carry the energy forward. Trying to look at the reminders of what matters and what works.

With that in mind, prisoners held in administrative segregation in Menard Prison in Illinois went on hunger strike on January 15th, demanding changes, including informal face-to-face 90-day review hearings, so that the solitary confinement will not be indefinite, with no way out. Now we are told they are also refusing liquids, and on THIRST STRIKE, as well as hunger strike, until the review hearings start. THIRST STRIKE IS NO JOKE. time is running out and they need a lot more support so their sacrifice can’t be ignored. CALL TODAY. SAVE LIVES. Amplify their voices.

Supporters can urge IDOC Director Godinez and Warden Harrington to accept the hunger strikers’ proposal immediately. Contact:

Illinois Department of Corrections Director Salvador Godinez, (217) 558-2200, ext. 2008, Illinois Department of Corrections, P.O. Box 19277, Springfield IL 62794-9277 or http://www2.illinois.gov/idoc/contactus/Pages/default.aspx
Warden Rick Harrington, (618) 826-5071, P.O. Box 711, Menard IL 62259

They were polite to me on the phone, which is great, but makes me think they are not getting nearly enough calls!! The phone should be ringing off the hook. CALL TODAY. SAVE LIVES. Amplify their voices.

Read more here (from the San Francisco Bay View) . . .

Byron Chubbuck (aka Oso Blanco) called a close friend and supporter last night (not me) very upset and asking for help. He said a staff person was checking their cell for “extra clothing” and grabbed a sheet of paper laying (out in the open!) of a simple drawing Oso did. He has been trying to establish where various Cherokee memorials/battlefields/landmarks/burial mounds are in relation to his current location – Lee USP. The drawing is of a fenced in burial mound he thought he saw upon his arrival.

Oso and his cellmate were thrown into the “secure housing unit” (SHU) (solitary confinement) for possessing an “escape tool”. Oso says it’s an insane charge.

Oso Blanco

Byron Chubbuck aka Oso Blanco

Oso  is worried that any day now a DHO (disciplinary judge) will come and rule with bias on this bogus “escape tool” charge.  Oso has been in the Special Management Unit (SMU), an extremely restrictive program, for years and was just recently released to USP Lee, a much more agreeable situation as far as prisons go. He is worried they will place him back in the SMU program.

Please take a second to call or email on behalf of Byron Chubbuck #07909051:Phone:  276-546-0150 Fax:  276-546-9115
E-mail address2:  LEE/EXECASSISTANT@BOP.GOV

Please be polite and just let them know you are concerned about Byron Chubbuck #07909051, and that you think he may be in SHU over a drawing that if looked at, has nothing to do with any escape plans or any conspiracy with any cell mate. No need to mention SMU, case history, or politics in my opinion.

Ask for his unit manager Ms. Willis, his counselor Mr. LaLonde, or someone else on Chubbuck’s unit team.

Another way to show support and let the prison know we are watching them is to send Oso a letter or postcard so the prison sees support that way too. Also to let Oso know he’s in your thoughts and he is not alone in there.

Byron Chubbuck #07909051
USP LEE
U.S. PENITENTIARY
P.O. BOX 305
JONESVILLE, VA  24263

 

WHAT: Send Love Through the Walls Holiday Card-Writing For Political Prisoners (Free!)

WHEN: 2:00-6:00pm, Sunday, December 8th, 2013

WHERE: 263 Eastern Parkway between Classon and Franklin, Apartment 5D (on the left side!) Brooklyn phone: 718.783.8141

For more information, contact:
Resistance in Brooklyn– mmmsrnb at igc dot org
NYC Anarchist Black Cross– nycabc at riseup dot net
Scientific Soul Sessions–scientificsoulsessions.com

&

Save Seth!

via Moorbey via Jericho . . .

Urgent Health Campaign for Robert Seth Hayes #74-A-2280

Robert Seth  Hayes is currently 65 years old. We are requesting  an appropriate medical      work-up in an outside facility for abnormal      weight loss, because Mr. Hayes has lost 40 pounds in the last 3 months      and currently weighs only    140 pounds max. 40 lbs of weight loss in a few months is very concerning      for cancer and cancer      needs to be ruled out. This is most urgently needed for Seth’s health  right now. This weight loss is acute and clearly urgent.

Read the rest here and please call ASAP and email Jericho . . . 

Seth_Calls_twitter_screenshot

Days the Roman Calendar sees as the end of October to the beginning of November were sacred days for the ancient celts. As part of the holiday of Samhainn, celts would celebrate the last harvest and the beginning of the darker season. They would also honor ancestors and other spirits, as Samhainn was a time in which boundaries were less distinct and spirits moved freely between worlds. Some still celebrate and Samhainn is the basis for Hollowmas and Halloween.

Though originally taking place in summer months, an Aztec festival honoring ancestors has survived for thousands of years as the Days of the Dead/ Dias de los Muertos in its partially colonized consolidation into the same days as All Saints and All Souls Day.

The Industrial Workers of the World, a historic and visionary industrial union, have a tradition called, “In November We Remember,” which is about remembering the fallen comrades and social ancestors of the IWW, including Joe Hill, killed Nov. 19, 1915, as well as many others.

Lost celt and long-lapsed wobbly that I am, I am reflecting on ancestors and spirits. My grandparents, my uncle, a friend of my family, two of my teachers. Political acquaintances who died serving the movements. Named and unnamed queer and “gender-non-conforming” people whose bravery has allowed me to live a little louder and dream a little bigger than I otherwise could have lived and dreamed. Thank you.

Through I didn’t know him personally, I am also still thinking of Herman Wallace who just passed in early October. I have long believed that supporting and including people imprisoned for their involvement in liberatory political movements is essential for building any kind of meaningful change.

As was recently brought up by the North American Anarchist Black Cross Medical Justice Committee, “Herman was just one of many, ageing political prisoners (and prisoners of war) in the United States who are currently being denied adequate medical care and the compassionate release for which they qualify . . . “

“Unfortunately, cases like Herman’s are far too common. Albert “Nuh” Washington, Bashir Hameed  and Marilyn Buck are other recent victims of prison medical neglect. Some, such as Merle Africa, have died under suspicious medical circumstances. More will soon follow, if swift action is not taken. “

I am thinking of all of them. Herman Wallace and his tireless supporters have shown us that a political prisoner falsely accused of murder can be released through the court system, at least when they are nearing the end. The partial victory suggests that its possible to  make this happen sooner and faster for others.  I think we have to try to do our parts and show our own social descendants, the youth of tomorrow, that resisting the status quo doesn’t mean living out one’s days alone and neglected.

  • Herman Wallace Finally Free (2:29)by Mumia Abu-Jamal via Prison Radio 10/4/13
  • FAREWELL HERMAN by Albert Woodfox via moorbey
    “Well, the old man has decided to leave us! I am sure it was a very hard choice for him, who will I serve, the ancestors who have called me home, or humanity whom I love so much?”

“Herman Wallace is laid to rest in New Orleans surrounded by family, friends and fellow Black Panther members. 10/12/13 (photo by Giles Clarke).” via Prison Culture

Read this very important statement below for perspective on going forward. . .

North American Anarchist Black Cross Medical Justice Committee statement on the state of health care of Political Prisoners in the U.S.

For those of you who did not go near any computers, smartphones or televisions today, Chelsea Manning came out as her courageous self, saying, “I am Chelsea Manning. I am female,” and stating her preference for female pronouns and her intention to pursue hormone replacement therapy. First she spoke out, exposing u.s. military atrocities in Iraq and Afghanistan, and for that truth telling she is sentenced to 35 years. Today she spoke out about who she is.

And then the internet and the news erupted with lots of transphobic hatred and ungendering refusals to refer to Chelsea by her preferred name and pronouns.

But there were some beautiful moments on the internet today as well. And I’d like to highlight a few, for those of you who are not combing through my tweets . . .

Chelsea Manning and the realities for transgender and gender non-conforming people in prison, jails and detention centers ” (from the Sylvia Rivera Law Project)

“Chelsea Manning & the Battle for Trans Inclusive Healthcare Without Bias” by Janet Mock

Around 1:48 of this video, after Jake Tapper’s ungendering intro (trigger warning), Lauren McNamara speaks from personal knowledge and mutual respect about Chelsea Manning on CNN.  Check it out. 

Originated by LA ABCF years ago, Running Down the Walls has grown into a phenomenon, as runners in multiple north american cities and locales, and on both sides of the walls, act in concert, step by step, to exercise commitment in solidarity and raise funds for the Warchest Program and other local causes. The Warchest is a unique program, run by the Anarchist Black Cross Federation, that sends bimonthly stipends to political prisoners and prisoners of war with little other means of support.

The 2013 run/jog/walks will take place on September 1st!!! Get ready to participate, donate, or sponsor a runner, wherever you are.

NYC !!! (Brooklyn)

NYC event also on Facebook if you’re into that sort of thing .
And PS, former political prisoner Daniel McGowan is training for NYC Running Down the Walls and is sponsored by Bluestockings Books and YOU can sponsor him here via Paypal

LA!!!  (September 8th)
(Facebook link)

Denver!!!

And check out this amazing promo video from Denver ABC!!!

Download July 2013 California Hunger Strike flyer here

Includes info about calling Governor Brown and about sending cards to Pelican Bay representatives. Mostly posting this to avoid clogging peoples’ email inboxes. Let me know if you see any issues or problems and/or feel free to fix, customize, and/or distro yourself.  I know it’s not cool to make word flyers anymore but it’s what I have to offer at the moment and it is at least a front-and-back half-sheet. Normally I would make sure all phone numbers and addresses have been tested but this time I can’t because of time. Most info is coming from a trusted source though:

http://prisonerhungerstrikesolidarity.wordpress.com

And PS they have more printable outreach materials here:
http://prisonerhungerstrikesolidarity.wordpress.com/take-action-2/resources/flyers-outreach-materials/

Hope everyone finds a way to resist solitary confinement tomorrow on the

#CAHungerStrikeTOMORROW, Wednesday, July 31st, 2013, In NYCNationally/Internationally coordinated day of action in support of the hunger strikeSolitary Confinement Is Torture

END TORTURE IN THE UNITED STATES

RALLY in support of the thousands who have gone on hunger strike in Pelican Bay and other California prisons — and to end the torture of solitary confinement in New York’s own prisons and jails.

Wednesday, July 31

4:30 – 6:00 pm

163 West 125th Street (at Adam Clayton Powell Blvd.)

in front of the New York State Office Building

It is quite hot. Prisoners struggle against inhumane conditions within the industrial complex that is warehousing people indefinitely from youth and meanwhile a blatantly racist street execution gets sanctioned by the judicial system for it’s supposed well-meaningness (for being aligned with the system) and sparks unrest in the streets . . .

In case you missed it,

Really crazy, disturbing video of Yasiin Bey (aka Mos Def) voluntarily undergoing the force-feeding which is the standard procedure applied by the u.s. to Guantanamo prisoners currently on hunger strike in the month of Ramadan. He has my respect for doing this. 

TRIGGER WARNING:
bondage, torture, possible breach of consent, etc.

Meanwhile, “More than 30,000 California prisoners are on indefinite hunger strike. They are calling on the Governor and the CDCR to meet their 5 Core Demands. More Info” . . . 

From Victoria Law’s blog, Resistance Behind Bars:
” This past Saturday, I was on the Melissa Harris-Perry show to talk about the Pelican Bay hunger strikes, the issue of solitary confinement in general, and the sterilization of nearly 150 women in California prisons between 2006 and 2010. I diverted a little from the topics to talk about the fact that *women* are also in solitary confinement and have been (and continue to be held) in California’s Security Housing Units, spending 22-23 hours a day in 7×11 foot cells and not being allowed to call their children and loved ones.

You can watch me talking about these issues here:

And what can I say about Zimmerman being acquitted for the obvious racist murder of Trayvon Martin that hasn’t been said? How can I do this explosive travesty justice on this blog? 

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