I began this blog in May 2009 following the death of Marcia Powell at Perryville State Prison in Goodyear, Arizona. It is not intended to prescribe the path that leads to freedom from the prison industrial complex.

Rather, these are just my observations in arguably the most racist, fascist, militaristic state in the nation at a critical time in history for a number of intersecting liberation movements. From Indigenous resistance to genocidal practices, to the fight over laws like SB1070 and the ban on Ethnic Studies, Arizona is at the center of many battles for human rights, and thus the struggle for prison abolition as well - for none are free until all are. I retired the blog in APRIL 2013.

Visit me now at Arizona Prison Watch or Survivors of Prison Violence-AZ

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Resistance Watch: 2 years for DeChristopher.

This guy is a hero and didn't hurt a soul, and they're sending him off to prison - exiling him from his community - to make a lesson of him for the rest of pay attention and learn. Don't think they won't do it to you or I for something similarly creative and non-violent, as well...

These are our beloved ObamaFeds wh
o prosecuted him, too, by the way - not even the self-righteous extremists and political machinery we have to contend with in Arizona.

I guess our lesson is that if you're going to commit seemingly "harmless" acts of non-violent resistance, make sure you know what the possible consequences are and are prepared to face them, because it's the same people that we protest who have the power to police, prosecute, a
nd cage us...and that's not going to change any time soon.

That s
aid, ROCK ON Resisters -

and bring on that felony warrant already.

Thanks for your inspiration and perseverance, Tim. You are widely loved and in federal custody, so at least you won't be dying in an Arizona state prison any time soon...
still, you have a hard road ahead, so blessings to you, my friend, for your courage.

In Solidarity,

Peggy Plews

----------------from Green is the New Red----------------

Tim DeChristopher Sentenced ­ What’s Next for the Environmental Movement?

by Will Potter on July 27, 2011

in Activism & Activists' Response, Terrorism Court Cases

Environmentalist Tim DeChristopher was sentenced to two years in prison for using non-violent civil disobedience to disrupt a sham oil and gas auction. He had been found guilty on two felony counts for making fake bids in the auction, costing corporations hundreds of thousands of dollars, and faced up to ten years.

He increased the bids on 22,000 acres of land in Utah national parks. A federal judge later ruled the auction was illegal.

DeChristopher’s case has attracted international attention, and he has become a spokesperson for the environmental movement. This case is much bigger than DeChristopher, though (as he has often said himself). We all need to be thinking: what’s next? How do we move forward?

Even if you do not consider yourself an environmentalist, or don’t agree with DeChristopher’s tactics, this case should raise serious questions about the misplaced priorities of our government and our entire culture. DeChristopher’s two-year sentence is comparable to what members of underground groups have received for property destruction. The court has sent the message that public, aboveground activists, who use non-violent civil disobedience, will be treated on par with underground activists who use economic sabotage.
More importantly, though, the government has sent the message that the people who step forward to stop ecological destruction will be met with harsh punishments, while those who responsible for this destruction, such as the oil and gas corporations bidding for public lands, will go about business as usual.

As the judge said during sentencing: “Civil disobedience can’t be the order of the day,” or it will lead to “chaos.”
But chaos for who? For the people? For the planet? Or for corporations?

This case, and the larger crackdown on the environmental movement, makes strikingly clear that the government is more concerned about the latter. As defense attorney Ron Yengich said: “We never impose the rule of law on people who steal from poor people, destroy the banking systems or destroy the earth.”

Moving forward, we need to remember one thing above all else: this is happening because DeChristopher was effective.

DeChristopher’s actions exposed what goes on inside sham corporate auctions, it cost corporations hundreds of thousands of dollars, and it galvanized the movement.

At sentencing, U.S. District Judge Dee Benson said that DeChristopher’s leadership in the environmental movement, his “continuing trail of statements” for civil disobedience, and his speech outside the courthouse were the reasons he faced prison time.

The judge went so far as to take the unusual step of having DeChristopher taken into custody of the U.S. Marshalls until his prison sentence begins. In many other cases I have covered, including those of convicted arsonists, the prisoners were allowed to self-surrender. People are generally only taken directly into custody if they are a violent threat or a flight risk. Why was this different?
Because DeChristopher is inspirational, and he would clearly use his time before prison to organize.

“You have authority over my life, but not my principles. Those are mine,” DeChristopher said to the judge. “I’ll continue to confront the system that threatens our future.”

Others have vowed to do the same. Thousands will be in Washington, D.C. in August to protest the Keystone XL pipeline to the Tar Sands. They are planning mass non-violent civil disobedience.

get on this list-serve:

Freedom Archives
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110

415 863-9977

Monday, July 18, 2011

NLG Attorneys win Internet Free Speech Case

For Immediate Release: July 18, 2011

National Lawyers Guild Lawyers Victorious in Internet Free Speech Case

Contact: Jamie Munro, 212-679-5100 x12,

New York. In a case with precedential value for internet free speech, National Lawyers Guild members Larry Hildes of Bellingham, Washington, Devin Theriot-Orr of Seattle, and Mark Sniderman of Indiana successfully defended several activists who received subpoenas from Mt. Hope Baptist Church demanding they turn over their internet account records. Federal judge Richard A. Jones ruled that technology collective did not have to turn over the records. provides online communication tools for individuals and groups working for social change. Google received subpoenas in the same case and turned over its Gmail information without informing the individuals involved.

Mt. Hope Baptist Church subpoenaed the records of several users alleged to have taken part in a 2008 protest. They were members of the queer rights group Bash Back! which disrupted a 2008 Sunday Service at the conservative Mount Hope Church in Lansing, Michigan. Months later, the church and the Alliance Defense Fund, a reactionary Christian nonprofit organization, sued Bash Back! and named 15 activists under the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act. The church and Alliance Defense Fund subpoenaed identifying information from dozens of emails addresses; was the only email provider to challenge the subpoenas.

“This was a major victory for the rights of those engaged in political action or supporting those who are to freely associate safe from the prying eyes of the government, corporations, and fundamentalist churches and law firms. We are proud to have successfully defended this challenge, which is essential to effective political organizing, and proud to have worked with Riseup to do so,” commented Larry Hildes after the victory.

Attorneys for the Alliance Defense Fund representing Mt. Hope Baptist Church claimed that the users did not deserve protection because their speech was not “patriotic” free speech.

“To assert that some speech is unpatriotic and therefore unworthy of full First Amendment protection is an affront to this nation’s venerated principles of fostering robust debate,” said NLG Executive Director Heidi Boghosian.

The National Lawyers Guild, founded in 1937, is the oldest and largest public interest/human rights bar organization in the United States. Its headquarters are in New York and it has chapters in every state.

Hungry for Human Rights: Solitary and Pelican Bay

Barbarous Confinement
Op-Ed Contributor
Published: July 17, 2011
New York Times

MORE than 1,700 prisoners in California, many of whom are in maximum isolation units, have gone on a hunger strike. The protest began with inmates in the Security Housing Unit at Pelican Bay State Prison. How they have managed to communicate with each other is anyone’s guess — but their protest is everyone’s concern. Many of these prisoners have been sent to virtually total isolation and enforced idleness for no crime, not even for alleged infractions of prison regulations. Their isolation, which can last for decades, is often not explicitly disciplinary, and therefore not subject to court oversight. Their treatment is simply a matter of administrative convenience.

Solitary confinement has been transmuted from an occasional tool of discipline into a widespread form of preventive detention. The Supreme Court, over the last two decades, has whittled steadily away at the rights of inmates, surrendering to prison administrators virtually all control over what is done to those held in “administrative segregation.” Since it is not defined as punishment for a crime, it does not fall under “cruel and unusual punishment,” the reasoning goes.

As early as 1995, a federal judge, Thelton E. Henderson, conceded that so-called “supermax” confinement “may well hover on the edge of what is humanly tolerable,” though he ruled that it remained acceptable for most inmates. But a psychiatrist and Harvard professor, Stuart Grassian, had found that the environment was “strikingly toxic,” resulting in hallucinations, paranoia and delusions. In a “60 Minutes” interview, he went so far as to call it “far more egregious” than the death penalty.

Officials at Pelican Bay, in Northern California, claim that those incarcerated in the Security Housing Unit are “the worst of the worst.” Yet often it is the most vulnerable, especially the mentally ill, not the most violent, who end up in indefinite isolation. Placement is haphazard and arbitrary; it focuses on those perceived as troublemakers or simply disliked by correctional officers and, most of all, alleged gang members. Often, the decisions are not based on evidence. And before the inmates are released from the barbarity of 22-hour-a-day isolation into normal prison conditions (themselves shameful) they are often expected to “debrief,” or spill the beans on other gang members.

The moral queasiness that we must feel about this method of extracting information from those in our clutches has all but disappeared these days, thanks to the national shame of “enhanced interrogation techniques” at Guantánamo. Those in isolation can get out by naming names, but if they do so they will likely be killed when returned to a normal facility. To “debrief” is to be targeted for death by gang members, so the prisoners are moved to “protective custody” — that is, another form of solitary confinement.

Hunger strikes are the only weapon these prisoners have left. Legal avenues are closed. Communication with the outside world, even with family members, is so restricted as to be meaningless. Possessions — paper and pencil, reading matter, photos of family members, even hand-drawn pictures — are removed. (They could contain coded messages between gang members, we are told, or their loss may persuade the inmates to snitch when every other deprivation has failed.)

The poverty of our criminological theorizing is reflected in the official response to the hunger strike. Now refusing to eat is regarded as a threat, too. Authorities are considering force-feeding. It is likely it will be carried out — as it has been, and possibly still continues to be — at Guantánamo (in possible violation of international law) and in an evil caricature of medical care.

In the summer of 1996, I visited two “special management units” at the Arizona State Prison Complex in Florence. A warden boasted that one of the units was the model for Pelican Bay. He led me down the corridors on impeccably clean floors. There was no paint on the concrete walls. Although the corridors had skylights, the cells had no windows. Nothing inside could be moved or removed. The cells contained only a poured concrete bed, a stainless steel mirror, a sink and a toilet. Inmates had no human contact, except when handcuffed or chained to leave their cells or during the often brutal cell extractions. A small place for exercise, called the “dog pen,” with cement floors and walls, so high they could see nothing but the sky, provided the only access to fresh air.

Later, an inmate wrote to me, confessing to a shame made palpable and real: “If they only touch you when you’re at the end of a chain, then they can’t see you as anything but a dog. Now I can’t see my face in the mirror. I’ve lost my skin. I can’t feel my mind.”

Do we find our ethics by forcing prisoners to live in what Judge Henderson described as the setting of “senseless suffering” and “wretched misery”? Maybe our reaction to hunger strikes should involve some self-reflection. Not allowing inmates to choose death as an escape from a murderous fate or as a protest against continued degradation depends, as we will see when doctors come to make their judgment calls, on the skilled manipulation of techniques that are indistinguishable from torture. Maybe one way to react to prisoners whose only reaction to bestial treatment is to starve themselves to death might be to do the unthinkable — to treat them like human beings.

Colin Dayan, a professor of English at Vanderbilt University, is the author of “The Law Is a White Dog: How Legal Rituals Make and Unmake Persons.”

SF Police kill youth in Bayview district

The video is very disturbing - it really looks like the SF police just gunned this kid down then stood around and watched him die without rendering any aid at all. This will teach young black youth not to run from them again...or it will teach them to hate Power even more.

We celebrate the police as our "protectors" far too much in our culture; even when they act like bullies and gang up on us, they get the benefit of the doubt. They exist to keep us under control - with fear of death or imprisonment - not to keep us safe. Let that be the lesson that sinks in here: police intervention can be deadly, even over the smallest of things - like a $2 bus fare. Remember what happened to Danny Rodriguez before you call the cops on a friend or loved one thinking they might "help". By all means, be safe, but work it out without the police if you can.


‘Why should you die for a transfer?’

San Francisco Bay View National Black Newspaper
July 17, 2011

SF police kill teen, Kenneth Harding, as he ran from them at T-train stop; crowds protest, rallies planned

By Willie Ratcliff

When police stopped a teenager stepping off the T-train yesterday to show his transfer as proof he’d paid his fare – $2 at most – he ran from them. They shot him as many as 10 times in the back and neck, according to witnesses. For many long minutes, as a crowd watched in horror, the boy, who had fallen to the sidewalk a block away, lay in a quickly growing pool of blood writhing in pain and trying to lift himself up as the cops trained their guns on him and threatened bystanders.

This frame from a video shot by a bystander shows the teenager struggling to lift himself out of a pool of his own blood as a San Francisco police officer – one of several – aims his gun at the boy rather than trying to save his life. – Video frame: TheOneNonly457. The teen, Kenneth Harding, is loudly moaning in pain and crying out for help.

Having killed the boy [Kenneth Harding] at 4:44 p.m., according to the San Francisco Chronicle, [1] in broad daylight at the main intersection – Third Street between Palou and Oakdale – in Bayview Hunters Point, San Francisco’s last largely Black neighborhood, the police seemed eager to terrorize the community. They waited and waited and waited as the teenager stopped moving but continued breathing before eventually setting him on a gurney and taking him to the hospital, where the Chronicle reports he died at 7:01 p.m.

“Why should you die for a transfer?” asked a witness known as Tiptoe in the crowd of hundreds of residents that soon gathered in the plaza at the Oakdale/Palou light rail stop. “Justice will be brought!” hollered one man repeatedly in a booming voice as the crowd shouted at the long line of police in riot gear standing between them and the dying youngster. “I saw the riot squad fly by me on Palou yesterday – five trucks in all,” wrote Bayview resident Sherry Bryson on Facebook.

As night fell, firefighters washed the teenager's blood off the sidewalk and police and reporters talked. Rick Hauptman, who posted this photo on Facebook, noted: "The police seemed almost jolly. I saw many handshakes among them; I couldn't figure that out. Were they solely being respectful to their colleagues and to senior officers, or was it something else?”

As usual following police murders, the San Francisco Police Department came up with an excuse. The Chronicle [1] relayed it: “As the officers tried to detain the man, he took off running and drew a gun, police said,” according to staff writer Joe Garofoli. “When the suspect shot at the officers, they returned fire, fatally wounding him,” he continued, quoting SFPD Sgt. Michael Andraychak.

None of the many witnesses I spoke with yesterday saw the young victim either holding or shooting a gun and firmly believe he was unarmed. ABC7’s Carolyn Tyler balanced the police claim that they shot the youngster in self-defense by interviewing Trivon Dixon, who said: “He was running. How could he be a threat in retreat? And he wasn’t running backwards, turning around shooting. He was in full throttle, running away from the police. I don’t see in any way how he could be a threat to the police.”

Go to for remainder of article, video and much more!

On July 18, two days after they killed him, police identified the teenager as Kenneth Harding, 19, and demonized him with a heap of allegations that led one reporter to ask police accountability advocate Mesha Irizarry, "Aren't you relieved the police killed such a vicious criminal?"

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Mercenaries in the AZ Desert: Chinga La Migra

Interesting, and not very surprising, unfortunately. Please follow the link for the full article. Brenda Norrell is the best journalist I've seen report on issues related to the indigenous and the border, and she dug into all those Chinga La Migra files herself...

--------------------from Censored News----------------

Hacked police data: Assassins plan special ops team on Arizona border

originally posted: Tuesday, July 5, 2011

UPDATED: Hacked Arizona police files describe mercenary-type patrols on the Arizona border. However, one of those armed men at the border, responding to the leaked report, said some of the armed patrols are there to halt drug cartels, not to hunt migrants

By Brenda Norrell
Censored News
Updated July 17, 2011

SASABE, Ariz. -- In the leaked files of Chinga La Migra, a police report describes an encounter with a heavily-armed man at Sasabe and states there is a "mercenary-type" action planned for this area. It is the second time that e-mails leaked by hackers in the Chinga La Migra data revealed heavily-armed mercenary types here at Sasabe, southwest of Tucson. In the first police e-mail leaked, off-duty Marines were exposed patrolling with assault weapons.

In this second e-mail from police files, agents working in the town of Sasabe in March said they were approached by a man who engaged in a conversation with agents.

The agents said they immediately noticed that the man had a Glock pistol holstered on his right hip. The man also retrieved a Saiga shotgun, along with a 10 round magazine and a 20 round drum magazine from his truck and showed the agents.

“He stated that he is soon to receive funding in the amount of $350,000.00 from what he described as ‘Concerned citizens’ and that he planned to use this funding to bring up to five men into the area," the police report states.

The heavily-armed man “went on to describe these men, as well as himself, as prior military, all with extensive experience such as Recon, Sniper and Ranger Training, etc., and plans to conduct mercenary type operations in both the Sasabe, Arizona and Sasabe, Sonora border area," the police report states.

The police report states that he admitted having "Improvised Explosive Devices" deployed in the desert near Sasabe.

Agents were urged to take extreme caution while working in the area near Sasabe. In April, after the man was seen in Sasabe, there was a five hour police search of the area with a bomb crew.

Response: Some armed patrols on the border target drug cartels, not hunting migrants

One person who says he is armed at the Arizona border responded to the original article published here by Censored News, and the data from the Arizona police files.

Responding, the man said he is armed and at the Arizona border, but he is not part of the Minutemen or Blue Lights patrols. Instead, he said he is there to halt the armed cartel drug runners coming north, weapons going south, and for the protection of the communities.

He said the cartel escorts accompanying the drug loads are armed with AK47s. Some of the cartel lookouts on this side of the border are also armed with AK47s. Since it is very desolate country, any help is usually about an hour away, if any help comes at all. So to go out there unarmed is suicide, he said.

He points out that there are corrupt Border Patrol agents on the border and they report people with false information, if they get in the corrupt agents' way.

The corruption within the Border Patrol was the subject of testimony before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs, on June 9, 2011 in Washington. Officials testified that 127 Border Patrol agents have been arrested and hundreds more are now under investigation, for corruption, including drug smuggling and accepting bribes from drug runners.

Responding to Censored News, the person who is armed at the border said he is there to halt drug cartels from coming in, prevent weapons from going south into Mexico and to protect the local area. He said there are good people on the other side of the border in Mexico and they do not deserve to be slaughtered by the drug cartels.

But he said he is not there to hunt migrants. He said he even carries extra water and food for migrants that are left stranded.

He points out that the U.S. government has supplied the cartels with over 2,500 AK/47s.

This fact was revealed in the recent testimony, and news reports, of the ATF Fast and Furious operation. Those ATF weapons in the operation, which the ATF claims were part of a sting operation, are being used on both sides of the border. These weapons that the US was allowing to "walk" across the border were proven to be used in the murder of two US agents, including one agent near Nogales, Ariz.

The Los Angeles Times points out that not only did 2,500 weapons wind up in the hands of the cartels, but the DEA and FBI were paying the same cartel members as informants. “The official said at least half a dozen cartel figures were being paid by one U.S. law enforcement agency while they were being targeted by another.”,0,6972222.story

Further, responding to Censored News, the armed man patrolling the Arizona border says that Wells Fargo/Wachovia was caught laundering $378 billion of cartel drug money over a period of 4 years, over 90 billion a year. He pointed out that not one criminal charge was brought against them.

Further, the man patrolling the Arizona border said the intent of the government is not to stop this drug running, but it is to keep it going so there are more people in this country "doped up who can't think straight and will obey whatever they are told." Referring to the US military and drug running, he said: Why do you think we are in Afghanistan?

He said it is because 90 percent of the world’s opium comes from there.

He said by patrolling the mountains at the Arizona border, he is trying to stop the drug trade and not only put a crimp on the cartel cash flow, but also on the U.S. government cash flow and corruption...

for the rest, hit:

Snowbowl Resistance: Call to Action!

Please drop off donations and equipment to support the Snowbowl Resistance at:

1700 N. 2nd St.
Occupied Territories
Flagstaff, AZ, 86004


Something’s a brewin’! Support the Convergence and Cook Shack Base Camp on the Peaks!

by Peaks CookShack on Saturday, July 16, 2011 at 5:57pm




Dear Friends Family, Neighbors and Allies,

The Cook Shack has officially set-up camp!!! We started our first day with over two dozen people strong. Today, on our second day, we have grown to 40 plus people who love and care about the Peaks, the all sacred places, people’s health, cultural and spiritual survival, and the protection of Mother Earth. Folks from all over are coming together to stop the construction and put an end once and for all to the desecration.

What we need now is more of us. We ALL need to converge on the Holy San Francisco Peaks. Let’s become hundreds and thousands strong. The construction is moving quickly and we need everyone to act now. Don’t wait until it’s too late. With a thousand voices, anything is possible!

Don’t know where to start? Here are just a few suggestions…

1. Grab your gear and come camping! Enjoy the peace and beauty the Peaks has to offer and give back by joining the resistance. Please be self-sufficient. List of what that means, included below.

2. Come to the mountain for a day! Say hello to us, go for a hike, take a breather, play with your kids… just come!

3. Help run and support the Cook Shack. Make donations at Taala Hooghan Infoshop – 1704 N. 2nd. St. East Flagstaff AZ. List of needs included below.

4. Become the Media! Bear witness, document the atrocities being committed by Snowbowl, the Forest Service, and by extension the USDA, the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality and the city of Flagstaff… and spread the word!

5. Be ready! Keep your eyes/ears open and support calls to action and public events in the next few weeks!

If you would like to support the CookShack basecamp, here are some things we need:

- Monies for gas and other supplies! You can send/drop off a donation at Taala Hooghan Infoshop or use paypal on

- Food (ongoing) – Dry goods, snacks, fruits, and non-perishables

- Water (ongoing) – 5 gallon drums with potable water

- Coffee and Teas

- Camping stoves and propane tanks

- Ammo cans

- Sleeping pads, sleeping bags, tents

- First Aid and Homeopathic medicine for headaches, heat exhaustion, and altitude sickness

- Rain and cold weather gear (please, it’s below 45 degrees in the evenings)

What it means to be self-sufficient?

It is low 40’s in the evenings and there will be scattered thunderstorms throughout the week. Please bring warm and rain-proof clothing and gear.

Things to bring with you:

  • Earth-friendly toiletries
  • Water
  • Food and cooking utensils if needed
  • Utensils, plate and cup!
  • Toilet paper
  • Tent
  • Tarps
  • Flashlight and batteries
  • Sleeping pad and bag
  • Medicine (if you need it)
  • Extra clothing

Reminders when converging on the Peaks:

  • Leave no trace!
  • Minimize garbage and dispose of it properly.
  • Abide by US forest Service regulations
  • No drugs/alcohol/violence/haters
  • No sexism, homophobia, racism, classism, transphobia, ageism, or any other form of oppression or other forms of violence
  • Dogs welcomed
  • Be deeply responsible for yourself and your actions
  • Be respectful
  • Be helpful

The goals of the Cook Shack base camp are simple:

To be visibly and actively in resistance to corporate greed, state violence, environmental destruction, and spiritual desecration.

To not allow ourselves or others to look away - To bear witness to the atrocities being committed against the environment, indigenous people and community health, as well as bear witness to the resilience and power of the people!

To support other encampments and affinity groups by providing access to available food, gear, first aid, information and other supplies being offered and dropped off by supporters and community members. We will be transporting donations from Taala Hooghan Infoshop to the CookShack base camp.

To answer the calls to action to STOP CONSTRUCTION AND DESECRATION and to stand with people past and present fighting to protect the peaks and all sacred places.

Much Love,

Cook Shack

“Rise like Tsunamis after the Earthquakes”

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Suicide at Lewis Prison: Jesse Cabonias.

Jesse Joe Cabonias is just the latest Arizona state prisoner to kill himself; prisoner homicides and suicides have skyrocketed under the present administration. Why can't the most fortified police agency in the state - and the best funded - keep their prisoners safe? I hope this fellow has family with standing to sue so that they can compel an answer to that question in court...too many ADC prisoners are dying this way. Our condolences to Jesse's loved ones, wherever you may be.

Knowing these kinds of events also bring up feelings for violent crime victims and survivors, our thoughts go out to the loved ones of this man's elderly victim as well.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Grieving Tony Lester: Candlelight Vigil



Monday July 11, 7:30pm

Bolin Memorial Park

AZ State Capitol Complex
17th Ave Crosswalk
(between W. Jefferson and W. Washington)

November 14, 2010

Sidewalk art and altered state: The Prison Abolitionist
Original Photo: Robert Haasch

Please join Arizona’s survivors of prison violence
a candlelight vigil with Tony Lester’s family on the 1-year anniversary of his death.

Your presence would be a message to power

that these lives mattered.

peggy plews / 480-580-6807

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Pelican Bay hunger strike spreading across CA

Sign the petLinkition to support the strikers!

---from the LA Times----

Inmate hunger strike expands to more California prisons

Inmates in at least a third of California's prisons are believed to be refusing meals in solidarity with maximum-security prisoners at Pelican Bay.

By Sam Quinones,
Los Angeles Times
July 6, 2011

Inmates in at least 11 of California's 33 prisons are refusing meals in solidarity with a hunger strike staged by prisoners in one of the system's special maximum-security units, officials said Tuesday.

The strike began Friday when inmates in the Security Housing Unit at Pelican Bay State Prison stopped eating meals in protest of conditions that they contend are cruel and inhumane.

"There are inmates in at least a third of our prisons who are refusing state-issued meals," said Terry Thornton, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

The number of declared strikers at Pelican Bay — reported Saturday as fewer than two dozen — has grown but is changing daily, she said. The same is true at other prisons.

Some inmates are refusing all meals, while others are rejecting only some, Thornton said. Some were eating in visitation rooms and refusing state-issued meals in their cells, she said.

Assessing the number of actual strikers "is very challenging," Thornton said.

Prison medical staff are "making checks of every single inmate who is refusing meals," she said.

More than 400 prisoners at Pelican Bay are believed to be refusing meals, including inmates on the prison's general-population yard, said Molly Poizig, spokeswoman for the Bay Area-based group Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity.

The group had received reports on the strike from lawyers and family members visiting inmates over the weekend, she said.

The group's website claims that prison officials attempted to head off the strike by promoting a Fourth of July menu that included strawberry shortcake and ice cream. According to the website, the wife of a Security Housing Unit inmate said her husband had never had ice cream there and "has never seen a strawberry."

Inmates at Calipatria State Prison — with more than a thousand prisoners — were among those reported to be refusing meals, Poizig said. Prison officials could not be reached for comment.

But Thornton acknowledged that inmates at the prison were refusing to eat state-issued meals.

The strike was organized by Security Housing Unit inmates at Pelican Bay protesting the maximum-security unit's extreme isolation. The inmates are also asking for better food, warmer clothing and to be allowed one phone call a month.

The Security Housing Unit compound, which currently houses 1,100 inmates, is designed to isolate prison-gang members or those who've committed crimes while in prison.

The cells have no windows and are soundproofed to inhibit communication among inmates. The inmates spend 22 1/2 hours a day in their cells, being released only an hour a day to walk around a small area with high concrete walls.

Prisoner advocates have long complained that Security Housing Unit incarceration amounts to torture, often leading to mental illness, because many inmates spend years in the lockup.

Gang investigators believe the special unit reduces the ability of the most predatory inmates, particularly prison-gang leaders, to control those in other prisons as well as gang members on the street.

Prison administrators are meeting with inmate advisory councils to discuss the inmates' complaints, Thornton said.

But "I have not heard there's been any decision" to modify policies governing the Security Housing Unit, she said. "A lot of those policies have been refined through litigation."

Monday, July 4, 2011

Freedom, Debt and Democracy...

This is about the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which is all about exploiting the capitalist game they call democracy and promoting corporate agendas. Seemed like an appropriate tune for the "land of the free" today in particular - if you can call sheep and slaves "free"...

Padded with power here they come
International loan sharks backed by the guns
Of market hungry military profiteers
Whose word is a swamp and whose brow is smeared
With the blood of the poor

Who rob life of its quality
Who render rage a necessity
By turning countries into labour camps
Modern slavers in drag as champions of freedom

Sinister cynical instrument
Who makes the gun into a sacrament --
The only response to the deification
Of tyranny by so-called "developed" nations'
Idolatry of ideology

North South East West
Kill the best and buy the rest
It's just spend a buck to make a buck
You don't really give a flying fuck
About the people in misery

IMF dirty MF
Takes away everything it can get
Always making certain that there's one thing left
Keep them on the hook with insupportable debt

See the paid-off local bottom feeders
Passing themselves off as leaders
Kiss the ladies shake hands with the fellows
Open for business like a cheap bordello

And they call it democracy
And they call it democracy
And they call it democracy
And they call it democracy

See the loaded eyes of the children too
Trying to make the best of it the way kids do
One day you're going to rise from your habitual feast
To find yourself staring down the throat of the beast
They call the revolution

IMF dirty MF
Takes away everything it can get
Always making certain that there's one thing left
Keep them on the hook with insupportable debt

Arizona's tax base eroded by anti-immigrant legislation.

Even the cookie monster says: "STOP SB1070"
Resistance Alley, Phoenix (June 4, 2011)

Apparently, America's undocumented immigrants paid $11 billion in taxes last year, while the multinational GE paid NOTHING. No wonder Arizona's economy is still in the gutter - we chased away all the honest, hard-working taxpayers, while cutting extra breaks to freeloading, exploitative corporations...So, thanks a lot SB1070, ALEC, Russ Pearce, and Jan Brewer - and all the idiots who voted for the right wing last election thinking they were protecting their own interests. You screwed us all.


Unauthorized Immigrants pay taxes too.

Immigration Policy Center

April 18, 2011

Estimates of the State and Local Taxes Paid by Unauthorized Immigrant Households

Tax Day is an appropriate time to underscore the often-overlooked fact that unauthorized immigrants pay taxes. The unauthorized, like everyone else in the United States, pay sales taxes. They also pay property taxes—even if they rent. At least half of unauthorized immigrants pay income taxes. Add this all up and it amounts to billions in revenue to state and local governments. The Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) has estimated the state and local taxes paid in 2010 by households that are headed by unauthorized immigrants.

These households may include members who are U.S. citizens or legal immigrants. Collectively, these households paid $11.2 billion in state and local taxes. That included $1.2 billion in personal income taxes, $1.6 billion in property taxes, and $8.4 billion in sales taxes. The states receiving the most tax revenue from households headed by unauthorized immigrants were California ($2.7 billion), Texas ($1.6 billion), Florida ($806.8 million), New York ($662.4 million), and Illinois ($499.2 million) {See Figure 1 and Table 1}. These figures should be kept in mind as politicians and commentators continue with the seemingly endless debate over what to do with unauthorized immigrants already living in the United States. In spite of the fact that they lack legal status, these immigrants—and their family members—are adding value to the U.S. economy; not only as taxpayers, but as workers, consumers, and entrepreneurs as well.

Ironwood Infoshop opening in Tempe!

Come celebrate the beginning of the Ironwood Infoshop, a new community-based space focusing on providing resources for those anti-hierarchically minded (read: anarchist). During our opening there will be zines for your perusing pleasure, vegan snacks for your mouth's delight, and music to enchant your earholes! This is all free. If you wanna bring books, zines, art supplies, or anything to donate, we will gladly accept.

FRIDAY, July 8, 2011 6pm-8pm

Ironwood Infoshop (in the back of The Fixx)
11 E. 7th St.
Tempe, AZ 85281

6 - Snack eatin', zine lookin', hangin' out

6:30 - The Brass Lung will play. The Brass Lung is a radical/guerrilla marching band. Prepare to have yr mind blown.

7ish - Radical open mic! Bring poetry, guitars, readings that inspire you; anything you want to share to help kick off the beginning of Tempe's new infoshop!

Here's some more info about the Ironwood Infoshop:

In addition to providing a lending library, we will hold discussions, workshops, craft nights, film screenings, and lots more. Ironwood is kid friendly, so bring your kids to hang out in our Kids Corner! We are currently open on Friday afternoons from 4-8 in the back space of The Fixx coffee shop. We are in the process of looking for a more permanent space, but until then we'll be here every Friday afternoon! We've got lots planned for the month of July, so come join us!

GETTING THERE and PARKING If you take the Light Rail, exit at the Mill/3rd Ave stop. Walk/wheel south on Mill, then take a left on 7th St. The Fixx will be the first building on your right. If you drive, park in the lot to the right of The Fixx, and make sure that you write down your car make/model at the coffee bar counter so you're not towed! We encourage carpooling too, so if you need a ride/want to carpool, post on the wall.

Emma Goldman on Patriotism. Happy 4th, Uncle Sam.

Written over 100 years ago by anarchist Emma Goldman...


Patriotism: a menace to liberty

Emma Goldman (1908)

What is patriotism? Is it love of one's birthplace, the place of childhood's recollections and hopes, dreams and aspirations? Is it the place where, in childlike naivety, we would watch the fleeting clouds, and wonder why we, too, could not run so swiftly? The place where we would count the milliard glittering stars, terror-stricken lest each one “an eye should be,” piercing the very depths of our little souls? Is it the place where we would listen to the music of the birds, and long to have wings to fly, even as they, to distant lands? Or the place where we would sit at mother's knee, enraptured by wonderful tales of great deeds and conquests? In short, is it love for the spot, every inch representing dear and precious recollections of a happy, joyous, and playful childhood?

If that were patriotism, few American men of today could be called upon to be patriotic, since the place of play has been turned into factory, mill, and mine, while deafening sounds of machinery have replaced the music of the birds. Nor can we longer hear the tales of great deeds, for the stories our mothers tell today are but those of sorrow, tears, and grief.

What, then, is patriotism? “Patriotism, sir, is the last resort of scoundrels,” said Dr. Johnson. Leo Tolstoy, the greatest anti-patriot of our times, defines patriotism as the principle that will justify the training of wholesale murderers; a trade that requires better equipment for the exercise of man-killing than the making of such necessities of life as shoes, clothing, and houses; a trade that guarantees better returns and greater glory than that of the average workingman.

Gustave Hervé [1], another great anti-patriot, justly calls patriotism a superstition — one far more injurious, brutal, and inhumane than religion. The superstition of religion originated in man's inability to explain natural phenomena. That is, when primitive man heard thunder or saw the lightning, he could not account for either, and therefore concluded that back of them must be a force greater than himself. Similarly he saw a supernatural force in the rain, and in the various other changes in nature. Patriotism, on the other hand, is a superstition artificially created and maintained through a network of lies and falsehoods; a superstition that robs man of his self-respect and dignity, and increases his arrogance and conceit.

Indeed, conceit, arrogance, and egotism are the essentials of patriotism. Let me illustrate. Patriotism assumes that our globe is divided into little spots, each one surrounded by an iron gate. Those who have had the fortune of being born on some particular spot, consider themselves better, nobler, grander, more intelligent than the living beings inhabiting any other spot. It is, therefore, the duty of everyone living on that chosen spot to fight, kill, and die in the attempt to impose his superiority upon all the others.

The inhabitants of the other spots reason in like manner, of course, with the result that, from early infancy, the mind of the child is poisoned with bloodcurdling stories about the Germans, the French, the Italians, Russians, etc. When the child has reached manhood, he is thoroughly saturated with the belief that he is chosen by the Lord himself to defend his country against the attack or invasion of any foreigner. It is for that purpose that we are clamoring for a greater army and navy, more battleships and ammunition. It is for that purpose that America has within a short time spent four hundred million dollars. Just think of it — four hundred million dollars taken from the produce of the people. For surely it is not the rich who contribute to patriotism. They are cosmopolitans, perfectly at home in every land. We in America know well the truth of this. Are not our rich Americans Frenchmen in France, Germans in Germany, or Englishmen in England? And do they not squandor with cosmopolitan grace fortunes coined by American factory children and cotton slaves? Yes, theirs is the patriotism that will make it possible to send messages of condolence to a despot like the Russian Tsar, when any mishap befalls him, as President Roosevelt [2] did in the name of his people, when Sergius [3] was punished by the Russian revolutionists.

It is a patriotism that will assist the arch-murderer, Diaz [4], in destroying thousands of lives in Mexico, or that will even aid in arresting Mexican revolutionists on American soil and keep them incarcerated in American prisons, without the slightest cause or reason.

But, then, patriotism is not for those who represent wealth and power. It is good enough for the people. It reminds one of the historic wisdom of Frederick the Great, the bosom friend of Voltaire, who said: “Religion is a fraud, but it must be maintained for the masses.”

That patriotism is rather a costly institution, no one will doubt after considering the following statistics. The progressive increase of the expenditures for the leading armies and navies of the world during the last quarter of a century is a fact of such gravity as to startle every thoughtful student of economic problems. It may be briefly indicated by dividing the time from 1881 to 1905 into five-year periods, and noting the disbursements of several great nations for army and navy purposes during the first and last of those periods. From the first to the last of the periods noted the expenditures of Great Britain increased from $2,101,848,936 to $4,143,226,885, those of France from $3,324,500,000 to $3,455,109,900, those of Germany from $725,000,200 to $2,700,375,600, those of the United States from $1,275,500,750 to $2,650,900,450, those of Russia from $1,900,975,500 to $5,250,445,100, those of Italy from $1,600,975,750 to $1,755,500,100, and those of Japan from $182,900,500 to $700,925,475.

The military expenditures of each of the nations mentioned increased in each of the five-year periods under review. During the entire interval from 1881 to 1905 Great Britain's outlay for her army increased fourfold, that of the United States was tripled, Russia's was doubled, that of Germany increased 35 per cent., that of France about 15 per cent., and that of Japan nearly 500 per cent. If we compare the expenditures of these nations upon their armies with their total expenditures for all the twenty-five years ending with 1905, the proportion rose as follows:

In Great Britain from 20 per cent. to 37; in the United States from 15 to 23; in France from 16 to 18; in Italy from 12 to 15; in Japan from 12 to 14. On the other hand, it is interesting to note that the proportion in Germany decreased from about 58 per cent. to 25, the decrease being due to the enormous increase in the imperial expenditures for other purposes, the fact being that the army expenditures for the period of 1901-5 were higher than for any five-year period preceding. Statistics show that the countries in which army expenditures are greatest, in proportion to the total national revenues, are Great Britain, the United States, Japan, France, and Italy, in the order named.

The showing as to the cost of great navies is equally impressive. During the twenty-five years ending with 1905 naval expenditures increased approximately as follows: Great Britain, 300 per cent.; France 60 per cent.; Germany 600 per cent.; the United States 525 per cent.; Russia 300 per cent.; Italy 250 per cent.; and Japan, 700 per cent. With the exception of Great Britain, the United States spends more for naval purposes than any other nation, and this expenditure bears also a larger proportion to the entire national disbursements than that of any other power. In the period 1881-5, the expenditure for the United States navy was $6.20 out of each $100 appropriated for all national purposes; the amount rose to $6.60 for the next five-year period, to $8.10 for the next, to $11.70 for the next, and to $16.40 for 1901-5. It is morally certain that the outlay for the current period of five years will show a still further increase.

The rising cost of militarism may be still further illustrated by computing it as a per capita tax on population. From the first to the last of the five-year periods taken as the basis for the comparisons here given, it has risen as follows: In Great Britain, from $18.47 to $52.50; in France, from $19.66 to $23.62; in Germany, from $10.17 to $15.51; in the United States, from $5.62 to $13.64; in Russia, from $6.14 to $8.37; in Italy, from $9.59 to $11.24, and in Japan from 86 cents to $3.11.

It is in connection with this rough estimate of cost per capita that the economic burden of militarism is most appreciable. The irresistible conclusion from available data is that the increase of expenditure for army and navy purposes is rapidly surpassing the growth of population in each of the countries considered in the present calculation. In other words, a continuation of the increased demands of militarism threatens each of those nations with a progressive exhaustion both of men and resources.

The awful waste that patriotism necessitates ought to be sufficient to cure the man of even average intelligence from this disease. Yet patriotism demands still more. The people are urged to be patriotic and for that luxury they pay, not only by supporting their “defenders,” but even by sacrificing their own children. Patriotism requires allegiance to the flag, which means obedience and readiness to kill father, mother, brother, sister.

The usual contention is that we need a standing army to protect the country from foreign invasion. Every intelligent man and woman knows, however, that this is a myth maintained to frighten and coerce the foolish. The governments of the world, knowing each other's interests, do not invade each other. They have learned that they can gain much more by international arbitration of disputes than by war and conquest. Indeed, as Carlyle said, “War is a quarrel between two thieves too cowardly to fight their own battle; therefore they take boys from one village and another village, stick them into uniforms, equip them with guns, and let them loose like wild beasts against each other.”

It does not require much wisdom to trace every war back to a similar cause. Let us take our own Spanish-American war [5], supposedly a great and patriotic event in the history of the United States. How our hearts burned with indignation against the atrocious Spaniards! True, our indignation did not flare up spontaneously. It was nurtured by months of newspaper agitation, and long after Butcher Weyler [6] had killed off many noble Cubans and outraged many Cuban women. Still, in justice to the American Nation be it said, it did grow indignant and was willing to fight, and that it fought bravely. But when the smoke was over, the dead buried, and the cost of the war came back to the people in an increase in the price of commodities and rent — that is, when we sobered up from our patriotic spree it suddenly dawned on us that the cause of the Spanish-American war was the consideration of the price of sugar; or, to be more explicit, that the lives, blood, and money of the American people were used to protect the interests of American capitalists, which were threatened by the Spanish government. That this is not an exaggeration, but is based on absolute facts and figures, is best proven by the attitude of the American government to Cuban labor. When Cuba was firmly in the clutches of the United States, the very soldiers sent to liberate Cuba were ordered to shoot Cuban workingmen during the great cigarmakers' strike, which took place shortly after the war.

Nor do we stand alone in waging war for such causes. The curtain is beginning to be lifted on the motives of the terrible Russo-Japanese war [7], which cost so much blood and tears. And we see again that back of the fierce Moloch of war stands the still fiercer god of Commercialism. Kuropatkin, the Russian Minister of War during the Russo-Japanese struggle, has revealed the true secret behind the latter. The Tsar and his Grand Dukes, having invested money in Corean concessions, the war was forced for the sole purpose of speedily accumulating large fortunes.

The contention that a standing army and navy is the best security of peace is about as logical as the claim that the most peaceful citizen is he who goes about heavily armed. The experience of every-day life fully proves that the armed individual is invariably anxious to try his strength. The same is historically true of governments. Really peaceful countries do not waste life and energy in war preparations, with the result that peace is maintained.

However, the clamor for an increased army and navy is not due to any foreign danger. It is owing to the dread of the growing discontent of the masses and of the international spirit among the workers. It is to meet the internal enemy that the Powers of various countries are preparing themselves; an enemy, who, once awakened to consciousness, will prove more dangerous than any foreign invader.

The powers that have for centuries been engaged in enslaving the masses have made a thorough study of their psychology. They know that the people at large are like children whose despair, sorrow, and tears can be turned into joy with a little toy. And the more gorgeously the toy is dressed, the louder the colors, the more it will appeal to the million-headed child.

An army and navy represents the people's toys. To make them more attractive and acceptable, hundreds and thousands of dollars are being spent for the display of these toys. That was the purpose of the American government in equipping a fleet and sending it along the Pacific coast, that every American citizen should be made to feel the pride and glory of the United States. The city of San Francisco spent one hundred thousand dollars for the entertainment of the fleet; Los Angeles, sixty thousand; Seattle and Tacoma, about one hundred thousand. To entertain the fleet, did I say? To dine and wine a few superior officers, while the “brave boys” had to mutiny to get sufficient food. Yes, two hundred and sixty thousand dollars were spent on fireworks, theatre parties, and revelries, at a time when men, women, and children through the breadth and length of the country were starving in the streets; when thousands of unemployed were ready to sell their labor at any price.

Two hundred and sixty thousand dollars! What could not have been accomplished with such an enormous sum? But instead of bread and shelter, the children of those cities were taken to see the fleet, that it may remain, as one of the newspapers said, “a lasting memory for the child.”

A wonderful thing to remember, is it not? The implements of civilized slaughter. If the mind of the child is to be poisoned with such memories, what hope is there for a true realization of human brotherhood?

We Americans claim to be a peace-loving people. We hate bloodshed; we are opposed to violence. Yet we go into spasms of joy over the possibility of projecting dynamite bombs from flying machines upon helpless citizens. We are ready to hang, electrocute, or lynch anyone, who, from economic necessity, will risk his own life in the attempt upon that of some industrial magnate. Yet our hearts swell with pride at the thought that America is becoming the most powerful nation on earth, and that it will eventually plant her iron foot on the necks of all other nations.

Such is the logic of patriotism.

Considering the evil results that patriotism is fraught with for the average man, it is as nothing compared with the insult and injury that patriotism heaps upon the soldier himself, — that poor, deluded victim of superstition and ignorance. He, the savior of his country, the protector of his nation, — what has patriotism in store for him? A life of slavish submission, vice, and perversion, during peace; a life of danger, exposure, and death, during war.

While on a recent lecture tour in San Francisco, I visited the Presidio, the most beautiful spot overlooking the Bay and Golden Gate Park. Its purpose should have been playgrounds for children, gardens and music for the recreation of the weary. Instead it is made ugly, dull, and gray by barracks, — barracks wherein the rich would not allow their dogs to dwell. In these miserable shanties soldiers are herded like cattle; here they waste their young days, polishing the boots and brass buttons of their superior officers. Here, too, I saw the distinction of classes: sturdy sons of a free Republic, drawn up in line like convicts, saluting every passing shrimp of a lieutenant. American equality, degrading manhood and elevating the uniform!

Barrack life further tends to develop tendencies of sexual perversion. It is gradually producing along this line results similar to European military conditions. Havelock Ellis, the noted writer on sex psychology, has made a thorough study of the subject. I quote: “Some of the barracks are great centers of male prostitution.... The number of soldiers who prostitute themselves is greater than we are willing to believe. It is no exaggeration to say that in certain regiments the presumption is in favor of the venality of the majority of the men.... On summer evenings Hyde Park and the neighborhood of Albert Gate are full of guardsmen and others plying a lively trade, and with little disguise, in uniform or out.... In most cases the proceeds form a comfortable addition to Tommy Atkins' pocket money.”

To what extent this perversion has eaten its way into the army and navy can best be judged from the fact that special houses exist for this form of prostitution. The practice is not limited to England; it is universal. “Soldiers are no less sought after in France than in England or in Germany, and special houses for military prostitution exist both in Paris and the garrison towns.”

Had Mr. Havelock Ellis included America in his investigation of sex perversion, he would have found that the same conditions prevail in our army and navy as in those of other countries. The growth of the standing army inevitably adds to the spread of sex perversion; the barracks are the incubators.

Aside from the sexual effects of barrack life, it also tends to unfit the soldier for useful labor after leaving the army. Men, skilled in a trade, seldom enter the army or navy, but even they, after a military experience, find themselves totally unfitted for their former occupations. Having acquired habits of idleness and a taste for excitement and adventure, no peaceful pursuit can content them. Released from the army, they can turn to no useful work. But it is usually the social riff-raff, discharged prisoners and the like, whom either the struggle for life or their own inclination drives into the ranks. These, their military term over, again turn to their former life of crime, more brutalized and degraded than before. It is a well-known fact that in our prisons there is a goodly number of ex-soldiers; while, on the other hand, the army and navy are to a great extent plied with ex-convicts.

Of all the evil results I have just described none seems to me so detrimental to human integrity as the spirit patriotism has produced in the case of Private William Buwalda. Because he foolishly believed that one can be a soldier and exercise his rights as a man at the same time, the military authorities punished him severely. True, he had served his country fifteen years, during which time his record was unimpeachable. According to Gen. Funston, who reduced Buwalda's sentence to three years, “the first duty of an officer or an enlisted man is unquestioned obedience and loyalty to the government, and it makes no difference whether he approves of that government or not.” Thus Funston stamps the true character of allegiance. According to him, entrance into the army abrogates the principles of the Declaration of Independence.

What a strange development of patriotism that turns a thinking being into a loyal machine!

In justification of this most outrageous sentence of Buwalda, Gen. Funston tells the American people that the soldier's action was “a serious crime equal to treason.” Now, what did this “terrible crime” really consist of? Simply in this: William Buwalda was one of fifteen hundred people who attended a public meeting in San Francisco; and, oh, horrors, he shook hands with the speaker, Emma Goldman. A terrible crime, indeed, which the General calls “a great military offense, infinitely worse than desertion.”

Can there be a greater indictment against patriotism than that it will thus brand a man a criminal, throw him into prison, and rob him of the results of fifteen years of faithful service?

Buwalda gave to his country the best years of his life and his very manhood. But all that was as nothing. Patriotism is inexorable and, like all insatiable monsters, demands all or nothing. It does not admit that a soldier is also a human being, who has a right to his own feelings and opinions, his own inclinations and ideas. No, patriotism can not admit of that. That is the lesson which Buwalda was made to learn; made to learn at a rather costly, though not at a useless price. When he returned to freedom, he had lost his position in the army, but he regained his self-respect. After all, that is worth three years of imprisonment.

A writer on the military conditions of America, in a recent article, commented on the power of the military man over the civilian in Germany. He said, among other things, that if our Republic had no other meaning than to guarantee all citizens equal rights, it would have just cause for existence. I am convinced that the writer was not in Colorado during the patriotic régime of General Bell. He probably would have changed his mind had he seen how, in the name of patriotism and the Republic, men were thrown into bull-pens, dragged about, driven across the border, and subjected to all kinds of indignities. Nor is that Colorado incident the only one in the growth of military power in the United States. There is hardly a strike where troops and militia do not come to the rescue of those in power, and where they do not act as arrogantly and brutally as do the men wearing the Kaiser's uniform. Then, too, we have the Dick military law. Had the writer forgotten that?

A great misfortune with most of our writers is that they are absolutely ignorant on current events, or that, lacking honesty, they will not speak of these matters. And so it has come to pass that the Dick military law was rushed through Congress with little discussion and still less publicity, — a law which gives the President the power to turn a peaceful citizen into a bloodthirsty man-killer, supposedly for the defense of the country, in reality for the protection of the interests of that particular party whose mouthpiece the President happens to be.

Our writer claims that militarism can never become such a power in America as abroad, since it is voluntary with us, while compulsory in the Old World. Two very important facts, however, the gentleman forgets to consider. First, that conscription has created in Europe a deep-seated hatred of militarism among all classes of society. Thousands of young recruits enlist under protest and, once in the army, they will use every possible means to desert. Second, that it is the compulsory feature of militarism which has created a tremendous anti-militarist movement, feared by European Powers far more than anything else. After all, the greatest bulwark of capitalism is militarism. The very moment the latter is undermined, capitalism will totter. True, we have no conscription; that is, men are not usually forced to enlist in the army, but we have developed a far more exacting and rigid force — necessity. Is it not a fact that during industrial depressions there is a tremendous increase in the number of enlistments? The trade of militarism may not be either lucrative or honorable, but it is better than tramping the country in search of work, standing in the bread line, or sleeping in municipal lodging houses. After all, it means thirteen dollars per month, three meals a day, and a place to sleep. Yet even necessity is not sufficiently strong a factor to bring into the army an element of character and manhood. No wonder our military authorities complain of the “poor material” enlisting in the army and navy. This admission is a very encouraging sign. It proves that there is still enough of the spirit of independence and love of liberty left in the average American to risk starvation rather than don the uniform.

Thinking men and women the world over are beginning to realize that patriotism is too narrow and limited a conception to meet the necessities of our time. The centralization of power has brought into being an international feeling of solidarity among the oppressed nations of the world; a solidarity which represents a greater harmony of interests between the workingman of America and his brothers abroad than between the American miner and his exploiting compatriot; a solidarity which fears not foreign invasion, because it is bringing all the workers to the point when they will say to their masters, “Go and do your own killing. We have done it long enough for you.”

This solidarity is awakening the consciousness of even the soldiers, they, too, being flesh of the flesh of the great human family. A solidarity that has proven infallible more than once during past struggles, and which has been the impetus inducing the Parisian soldiers, during the Commune of 1871, to refuse to obey when ordered to shoot their brothers. It has given courage to the men who mutinied on Russian warships during recent years. It will eventually bring about the uprising of all the oppressed and downtrodden against their international exploiters.

The proletariat of Europe has realized the great force of that solidarity and has, as a result, inaugurated a war against patriotism and its bloody spectre, militarism. Thousands of men fill the prisons of France, Germany, Russia, and the Scandinavian countries, because they dared to defy the ancient superstition. Nor is the movement limited to the working class; it has embraced representatives in all stations of life, its chief exponents being men and women prominent in art, science, and letters.

America will have to follow suit. The spirit of militarism has already permeated all walks of life. Indeed, I am convinced that militarism is growing a greater danger here than anywhere else, because of the many bribes capitalism holds out to those whom it wishes to destroy.

The beginning has already been made in the schools. Evidently the government holds to the Jesuitical conception, “Give me the child mind, and I will mould the man.” Children are trained in military tactics, the glory of military achievements extolled in the curriculum, and the youthful minds perverted to suit the government. Further, the youth of the country is appealed to in glaring posters to join the army and navy. “A fine chance to see the world!” cries the governmental huckster. Thus innocent boys are morally shanghaied into patriotism, and the military Moloch strides conquering through the Nation.

The American workingman has suffered so much at the hands of the soldier, State and Federal, that he is quite justified in his disgust with, and his opposition to, the uniformed parasite. However, mere denunciation will not solve this great problem. What we need is a propaganda of education for the soldier: antipatriotic literature that will enlighten him as to the real horrors of his trade, and that will awaken his consciousness to his true relation to the man to whose labor he owes his very existence.

It is precisely this that the authorities fear most. It is already high treason for a soldier to attend a radical meeting. No doubt they will also stamp it high treason for a soldier to read a radical pamphlet. But, then, has not authority from time immemorial stamped every step of progress as treasonable? Those, however, who earnestly strive for social reconstruction can well afford to face all that; for it is probably even more important to carry the truth into the barracks than into the factory. When we have undermined the patriotic lie, we shall have cleared the path for that great structure wherein all nationalities shall be united into a universal brotherhood, — a truly FREE SOCIETY.


[1]^ Gustave Hervé (Brest 1871-Paris 1944) gained notoriety in 1901 by writing an article which included the image of the tricolour planted in a pile of manure. He was a strong antimilitarist voice until 1912 as director of the paper La Guerre Sociale (The Social War). Then, frustrated by the ineffectiveness of all his efforts he abandoned his antimilitarism and became nationalist and patriotic, founding with others, in 1919, a national socialist party.

[2]^ Theodore Roosevelt (October 27, 1858 — January 6, 1919) 26th President of the U.S.A. He expanded the power of the Federal State over social and economic life.

[3]^ The Grand Duke Sergius, commander of the Moscow garrison and uncle of the Tsar Nicholas II was assassinated by the social revolutionary Kaliaiev.

[4]^ Porfirio Diaz (15 September 1830 — 2 July 1915) President of Mexico for over 30 years (1877-18881 and 1884-1911), he controlled the political and administrative life through a system generally referred to as centralized tyranny.

[5]^ Spanish-American war (1898). The conflict ended the Spanish rule in the Americas (withdrawal from Cuba) and led to the acquisition of territories by the U.S.A. in Asia (Philippines) and Latin America (Guam, Puerto Rico).

[6]^ General “Butcher” Weyler. Spanish General sent to Cuba in 1896 to put down the rebellion. Called the “Butcher,” Weyler confined much of the Cuban population into unsanitary concentration camps. He was recalled to Spain in 1897.

[7]^ Russo-Japanese war (1904-1905). The conflict arose out of the rivalry for the dominance of Korea and Manchuria and resulted in the victory of the Japanese and the end of the expansionist policy of Russia in the Far East.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Crescent City Hell on Strike: Pelican Bay.

Sorry to be so slow getting this out, folks - this hunger strike started on Friday, and I even saw it coming, so I have no good excuse except distraction. These guys are in it for the long haul and putting everything on the line - check out the support site for tons of info and resources on Pelican Bay and the reasons for the strike.



Dying for human rights: Prisoners begin hunger strike

Posted By Mary On July 3, 2011 @ 9:09 pm

SF BayView

by Bruce Reilly

[The striking prisoners at Pelican Bay are worried about Dr. Michael Sayre, “horrified at the inevitability that this man will be directly responsible for our care once we reach the depths of the strike.” Sayre is notorious for causing the death of Leonard Stephens, a prisoner who died during surgery on a broken ankle after Sayre failed to turn on the ventilation machine, and for the brutal forced feeding of a mentally ill prisoner. They ask activists to check out Dr. Sayre.}

What exactly is a hunger strike? It is when someone, or a group of people, will choose death over their current living conditions. But not an unknown pointless death; instead, they will commit a long, grueling, public death designed to create change – if not for themselves, then for those who live on in the horrid conditions, or those who are transported into that torture chamber sometime in the future.

In picturesque Crescent City, California [2], a coastal town six hours north of San Francisco, roughly one in five “residents” are prisoners. Several cell blocks of these isolated men began their hunger strike on Friday, July 1. After decades of living in some of the most deplorably inhuman conditions in America, they have organized themselves to say “Enough!” Pelican Bay State Prison [3] is in many ways the prototypical American prison, illustrating the historical gap betweem “haves” vs. “have nots,” and is quixotically surrounded by the peaceful beauty of Klamath National Forest, Jedediah Smith Redwoods, Tolawa Dunes, Lake Earl and Pelican Bay.

A petition of solidarity [4] directed towards Gov. Jerry Brown, the head of the California Department of Corrections and the prison warden has gained nearly 4,000 signatures without a single piece of mainstream media. The petition lists their core demands, including a letter sent by these men to the prison administration.

A website [5] has been set up as a base of community support for the hunger strike. With 2.4 million people in American cages, every prison administration will certainly be on full alert to crush solidarity efforts elsewhere, with the First and Eighth Amendments being of little obstacle in these mini-fiefdoms run by wardens in every jurisdiction. This action comes seven months after Georgia prisoners organized a massive work stoppage [6]. The need for “order” and control will likely override any violations of human rights … for now.

The famous Russian writer Fyodor Dostoevski [7] once stated, “If you want to understand the humanity of a society, go to its prisons.” His book, “House of Death,” is not as celebrated as “Crime and Punishment,” but it is his true account of life in the gulags, where he got seven years worth of 19th century Tsarist “humanity.”

Have we progressed in the Western world? Have the Age of Enlightenment and liberal values created a more humane and civil approach to the problems of violence, poverty, mental illness and addiction? It is easy to argue we have not. The American penal system is as barbaric as any in the history of governments who choose to build such warehouses of mass cages.

This hunger strike cannot be taken out of context, as prisons have always been a place for self-advocacy. Throughout the 20th century, names like Attica, San Quentin, Pontiac and Lucasville – where a recent hunger strike won concessions [8] – are known for prisoners fighting back against overcrowding, lack of food, absence of medical treatment, lack of education and guard brutality, among other issues.

This is another chapter in the American encyclopedia of anti-oppression, to be added with Watts, L.A., Stonewall, Cincinnati, and Harper’s Ferry. Nat Turner’s Rebellion [9] may have seemed “savage” to some, who can’t grasp the full nature of slavery; but keep in mind that John Brown’s uprising was just a few months before the Civil War resulted in the deaths of millions.

And so what can we glean by the latest chapter? For that, the uninitiated must learn about the conditions inside prisons.

The Pelican Bay Security Housing Unit (SHU) was created, as all supermax prisons are, to house the “worst of the worst.” During the challenge to build it, at considerable cost, California prison guards upped the ante on their own violence and the so-called need for this dungeon along the coast. Their notorious “shoot to kill” policy from the ominous guard towers was supposed to be precipitated by a warning shot. Most witnesses claimed the string of dead came with no such warnings, and at times the guards – now known as “correctional officers” – would set up a prisoner by using a lackey to start a fight.

This prison holds 1,100 of its 3,500 people in SHU, a sensory deprivation unit with 24-hour fluorescent lighting, no windows and a place where food is withheld as a weapon of control. It is a torture chamber well documented, with an average of over 15 people per month being released from these conditions to the free world. The average SHU stay is about two years, which is about 23 months longer than the typical prison punishment for a basic infraction within American prisons.

Pelican Bay is more than 150 percent over capacity, so it remains to be seen what the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that orders California to stop overcrowding will mean to this piece of the gulag.

I spent about two years in segregation, often with no books, left to my paper and pen. My longest single stretch was about 90 days, and it started to wear upon my mind. I saw no light and could only keep track of the day by what meal came. After a few weeks, I would constantly wonder if I had already put a mark on the wall representing the day. Friends of mine spent years in isolation, “buried” in seg (segregation), we would say.

Those who emerged were often a little different, clearly having post-traumatic stress disorder, yet with nowhere to get help. I believe only a small percentage ever overcome such trauma. And I can hardly imagine the scale of brutality, over decades, the Pelican Bay prisoners have been enduring.

Why are people in the SHU? Various reasons involving violation of internal institutional rules, but sometimes it is merely due to a label: “Gang affiliated” is the leading cause of long term segregation in America.

And how might someone ever un-affiliate? Or prove he is not actually in a gang? This is a leading source of problems, as overzealous gang task force investigators have sprung up in every prison. They need to prove their value, and yet they merely identify people.

If they truly sought to decrease factions and violence associated with rivalry – prison violence is often a continuation of street violence – they would be trained and working in a peacemaking manner. Instead they choose tactical violence to suppress violence. But as many tacticians recognize, suppression in one area only results in a bulge at another.

In Pelican Bay, someone labeled as a gang member must “debrief” in order to get out of the SHU and be placed back in general population. To do this, they need to “name names” of other gang members. Those who are truly not affiliated would need to fabricate names to gain freedom.

This causes problems, as one can imagine. If one truly debriefs as intended, some would consider that a death sentence. This person could never safely serve his time in general population, and for some, they could never return to their home communities after prison.

Has American culture bent far enough towards justice to support true reforms to our brutal punishment process? Judges need to understand what people may be subjected to when sentenced to two, 10 or 50 years. Juries need to recognize what they are punishing people with: They need to understand their role in the infliction of late night beatings and sensory deprivation.

They and the prosecutors, police and defense attorneys need to face their complicity in creating this hunger strike. America needs to see how possession of drugs as a teenager can result in something like this within a few years of being tossed to the gladiator pit of prison.

We on the outside of prisons, regardless of how direct our connection is to prisoners, must unite to create a massive movement away from this “violence begets violence” method of social control. We know how to create healthy and sustainable communities; we know what justice and equity are; we know what inhumanity looks like.

We just need to open our eyes and hold our public officials’ feet to the fire. Whereas we have historically sent troops abroad to install “democracy and freedom” in other lands, and to stop brutal regimes, we should not require Americans to die for such a cause within America.

Click HERE [4] to sign the petition of solidarity today! Go HERE [10] to learn more about taking action.

Bruce Reilly [11] is an anti-prison activist and artist. This story first appeared at [12].

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Article printed from San Francisco Bay View:

URL to article:

URLs in this post:

[1] Image:

[2] Crescent City, California:

[3] Pelican Bay State Prison:

[4] A petition of solidarity:

[5] A website:

[6] Georgia prisoners organized a massive work stoppage:

[7] Fyodor Dostoevski:

[8] where a recent hunger strike won concessions:

[9] Nat Turner’s Rebellion:

[10] HERE:

[11] Bruce Reilly:


[13] Solidarity and commitment:

[14] The call: Hunger strike to begin July 1:

[15] Hunger strike in the supermax Pelican Bay prisoners protest conditions in solitary confinement :

[16] SHU prisoners sentenced to civil death begin hunger strike:

[17] California SHU prisoners begin hunger strike July 1: