THIS BLOG is NOW RETIRED

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

David Rovics: We Are Everywhere

To my fellow activists now struggling through life - let this be a reminder that you are not alone and that we desperately need you here. All the injustice, grief, war, and human suffering calls for us to stay and do everything we can about it - you can't help us anymore when you're gone. Don't give up the fight - your last shred of hope may just keep someone else alive, too.
BLOG POSTS

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

F29: Exposing ALEC - Occupy PHX Stands Against ALEC

Yes, folks - Occupy Phoenix is alive and well...and a whole lot harder for the cops to manage now that it's mobile and not fussing with them over what constitutes "camping". Rock on, People! Don't forget to turn out for the rally against police violence in Scottsdale on Friday, March 2 at 8pm as well. The cops are baffled as to just who is organizing that thing. Show them that everyone is, and spread the word.



Occupy Phoenix invites all Arizonans to speak out on F29, a national day of action against the member corporations who make up the American Legislative Exchange Council. ALEC writes "model" bills and then wines and dines state legislators all across the country in order to circumvent the democratic process and push their own agendas. They create legislation to maximize their own profit at the expense of democracy, the environment, and the real people who their laws affect.

ALEC is behind the new union-busting busting bills in the AZ legislature. And SB 1070? Yep, that was an ALEC-generated bill that's now been copy-catted around the country.

On February 29th, we will join 75+ US cities to reclaim our future from the 1%. We will rally against ALEC corporations, expose their attempts to buy off our politicians, and recreate our democracy.

Join us! Leap into action! Reclaim our future!


*JOIN OPHX's EVENTS on FEB 29*

Noon: Rally and Press Conference at the State Capitol (17th Ave & Adams)! We will expose the ALEC connection to the recent anti-worker legislation introduced in our state legislature and demand that our senators and reps discontinue their involvement with ALEC. Bring signs!

3pm: Meet at César Chávez Plaza (201 W Washington St @ 1st Ave, Phx) and march down the street to Freeport McMoRan, one of ALEC dirtiest member corporations (with TERRIBLE labor and environmental records!) for protest/sidewalk rally and interactive street theater.

5pm: March from Freeport McMoRan (Van Buren & 1st St.) on a "scenic tour" of all the other ALEC corporations downtown, including CenturyLink, FedEx, and, one of the worst, Bank of America. Send them a message that we won't stand for the corporate takeover of our democracy any longer!


... AND/OR, plan your own event, rally, or direct action for Feb. 29! Resources below:

Want to know more about ALEC? http://www.alecexposed.com/

F29 info: http://www.shutdownthecorporations.org/ & https://www.facebook.com/pages/F29-Shut-Down-the-Corporations/169049533194891
--

Original Call to Action from Occupy Portland:

"Occupy Portland calls for a day of non-violent direct action to reclaim our voices and challenge our society’s obsession with profit and greed by shutting down the corporations. We are rejecting a society that does not allow us control of our future. We will reclaim our ability to shape our world in a democratic, cooperative, just and sustainable direction.

We call on the Occupy Movement and everyone seeking freedom and justice to join us in this day of action.

There has been a theft by the 1% of our democratic ability to shape and form the society in which we live and our society is steered toward the destructive pursuit of consumption, profit and greed at the expense of all else.

We call on people to target corporations that are part of the American Legislative Exchange Council which is a prime example of the way corporations buy off legislators and craft legislation that serves the interests of corporations and not people. They used it to create the anti-labor legislation in Wisconsin and the racist bill SB 1070 in Arizona among so many others. They use ALEC to spread these corporate laws around the country.

In doing this we begin to recreate our democracy. In doing this we begin to create a society that is organized to meet human needs and sustain life.

On February 29th, we will reclaim our future from the 1%. We will shut down the corporations and recreate our democracy.



Join us! Leap into action! Reclaim our future! Shut down the corporations!

Medical neglect in AZ state prisons: ACLU forum.

As many people out there know by now, the ACLU National Prison Project and the Prison Law Office are about to file a class action lawsuit against the state of Arizona for their horrid treatment of prisoners when it comes to health and mental health care. I want to encourage family members of prisoners across the state, as well as former prisoners and community activists, to make it to this public forum with the ACLU of Arizona in March. It will be not only an opportunity to get information about prisoner rights and (hopefully) the class action litigation, but a chance to connect with others concerned about the health and welfare of loved ones behind bars for further organizing. There is strength in numbers, as they say.

I also want to remind folks that on Friday, March 9 there's a rally at the state Capitol (Wes Bolin Plaza, 10am) to demonstrate against the neglect and abuse of people in our state prisons. At 7pm there will also be a candlelight vigil. Both of the March 9th events are being organized by families of current prisoners and those who have passed away. Please visit the Facebook page if interested in either event.



Monday, February 27, 2012

Political Prisoner Support: Free the Brass Lung!!!

Okay, our beloved brass band is actually already free and probably isn't facing jail, but they are being screwed and need our help. The Brass Lung is being prosecuted for disorderly conduct by Target (that one at Bethany Home and 19th Ave in PHX) for taking their music to their store one night earlier this year. You'd think that they would be celebrated for spreading joy and enlightenment wherever they go, but apparently they weren't very appreciated by Target's management, so now we will all be taught a lesson in how this big box deals with our creative, idealistic, eccentric youth: They criminalize them for playing music.

I think that's more than just a big misunderstanding. Something needs to be done about this Target store. Our people weren't even "protesting" them. 

Not yet, anyway...

Fortunately, the band already has a concrete way we can each help them get the charges dismissed so this petty BS doesn't screw up their lives. Please take a few minutes and print up copies of the letter below, and deliver them to Target and the band, as suggested.

Thank you for your support.

the Brass Lung, being cited by a squadron 
of highly-paid Phoenix Police at Target.


---------from the Brass Lung-----



Dear Friends,

It seems these ridiculous Disorderly Conduct charges are not going away as easily as we once thought. So we are reaching out to you to help us help Target & the City of Phoenix understand that playing brass music for 2 minutes should not be a waste of our tax dollars to pursue disorderly conduct charges. Just FYI, while many of us have participated in social justice events in the past, this was NOT a protest of Target. It was just for fun. We don't need big fundraisers or whatever, we just need your voice. :)

Here's what we're asking for:

1. Get two copies of our letter. (locations listed below) Fill out two identical copies of the letter. Like - "I am writing on behalf of my FRIEND, ADAM, who plays TROMBONE in a local brass band." etc etc. A personal note at the end could be helpful, as well.

2. You can EITHER: A) (best) bring a copy to management at Target on 19th Ave & Bethany Home Rd and one to us OR B) bring two copies to us and we'll get them to the right people.

3. Tell your friends and spread the word.

4. Bask in our gratitude. lovelovelove.

LOCATIONS:

1. Kate's front porch, downtown Phx - 9th St & Oak, under the bench.

2. Ash Avenue Books & Comics in Tempe.

Nick - Quads  /  Garyn - Snare  /   Stacy - Bass Drum  / Erica - Cymbals
Zach - Euphonium  /  Paul - Trombone / Adam -Trombone / Kate - Trumpet
Stevie - Trumpet /  Jason - Saxaphone  / Edie - Camera


thank you dearly :)

here's the support letter:
 

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Deaths in Custody: Deliberate Indifference to Ferdinand Dix.

For those of you who think that the health care in prison is free and guaranteed, think again. Medical co-pays can cost a weeks' pay, and the negligence one must contend with inside costs prisoners plenty. This is why the ACLU National Prison Project and the Prison law Office are about to sue the State of Arizona.

After receiving the following video, I asked the sender how she knew him:

"He was my brother.  I spent 36 hours watching him die in a hospital in Tucson, shackled hand and foot to the hospital bed, even though he was basically vegetative/comatose and had tubes coming out of every orifice – and I mean every one of them.  It was very sad and painful to see.  I just could not believe how he looked, with his belly so distended, filled with tumors in his liver.  I could not understand how anyone inside that Tucson prison could see a man, like my brother, walking around that prison complex looking like he looked and not instinctively known or felt like: "Hey, that inmate needs to see a doctor and get some serious treatment!"  I just can't believe that people like that exist.   Just where do they find these people who work within the AZDOC?  Did no one who examined him in the medical clinic think that his belly looked a bit odd?  Did they bother to touch it, particularly given his complaints about not being able to eat?  My mother was just now telling me how she remembers in some of his letters and phone conversations he would say, "Momma, I'm just so hungry and I can't eat anything."  Peggy, his liver was so big it had literally compressed his digestive organs and made it such that he could not eat.  Can you imagine a human being walking around like that, for Lord knows how long, feeling so hungry and feeling like nothing was being or could be done about it?"

video by Michelle Lependorf



Survivors of police and prison violence, abuse, and institutional indifference are often isolated, and may be vulnerable to state oppression if prisoners or their survivors try to sue for violations of their civil rights. Please, if you find yourself in that situation, contact me (Peggy at 480-580-6807 / prisonabolitionist@gmail.com). I can put you in touch with other families for support, we can work on getting your narrative out there, so there's more than just a criminal record or mugshot telling your loved one's story, you can help in the larger fight against state violence.

The Imperial History that Tom Horne Denies...

 AZ Attorney General's Office, PHOENIX
Centennial Day 2012
 
I conducted a solo protest in front of the AZ Attorney General's office on Centennial Day a couple of weeks ago - right before a bunch of flag-waving school children walked by - it was a great first amendment lesson for them. 
 
 
 
His assistant came running out to chase me away when I first set up my street signs (for morning rush hour traffic) and started chalking. She informed me that I was in front of the Attorney Generals' office and told me to take it down the street; she was greatly offended to learn that it was Tom himself I was protesting, asserting to me indignantly: "Why, Tom hasn't done anything!". 
 
 
 
 
 
 
I had nothing to say in response to that blanket denial - the poor woman was clearly delusional and couldn't be reasoned with. Fortunately, a Phoenix cop rode up on his bicycle and distracted her for a few minutes while she argued with him about why he wouldn't arrest or cite me for vandalism (it's protected speech in  chalk on a city sidewalk, the cop tried to explain - which is not the AG's property). She left when he did. 

Once I was finished I went on over to Wes Bolin Plaza at the Capitol, where I found a nice canvas in front of the Centennial Cactus.



Remember, now - anyone can do this kind of thing by themselves on their own schedule. Just bring a camera and tell anyone who asks that you're making a documentary on free speech and political expression in Arizona. That usually gets them to at least step back and reconsider their approach to you.

Now for the history lesson:

Warning: Viewing the following video may be prohibited in certain public schools in the state of Arizona, once Tom Horne gets his hands on it. 16 year old kids are too young to be exposed to competing interpretations of our collective history and truth, but they're old enough to prosecute as adults and send to prison for the rest of their lives...




Valley communities unite against police violence: Remembering the victims in Scottsdale

I've spent the last two Friday nights down on the corner of Scottsdale and Indian School Roads protesting the execution of John Loxas by Officer James Peters, as well as the bigger issue of police brutality and lethality in the Valley. It's surprising how many passers-by are clueless about John's death. Anyway, we're a leaderless and disorganized mass of about 30-40 people from all over the place, but we're finding each other out there, slowly, and a group with coherent objectives is taking form. Several groups, actually, seem to be coming together, with different tactics to employ. 


Here's the common page we share information on right now: Scottsdale Campaign for Justice and an end to Police Murder.


I want to encourage anyone with concerns about police brutality and use of lethal force in our community to turn out for these Friday demonstrations, from about 8pm to 10pm - especially those of you who have survived such encounters yourself. If you have been victimized by the police or the state with violence, you have likely also been isolated and frightened or shamed into silence. Come be with us, either anonymously, clad in black, or openly, as a survivor willing to join forces with other survivors of police and prison violence.


I'm hoping to get some folks with resources down to our street corner to train community members on dealing with police and putting together a COPWATCH group, to how the city administrative and political structure work and where citizens may be able to exercise a voice. I'm also hoping that these Friday gatherings will be a place where survivors can share their stories and people can safely bring their families - that we'll continue to have both a stationary, vigil-type action at the corner as well as a march through the streets of downtown that people can choose to participate in. It's on the march where police confrontations and violence against us (including the act of arrest) are most likely to occur, as happened this past Friday when Jeff was so aggressively taken into custody for talking to a driver on the street.



If you can't make the Friday anti-police violence vigils/marches, at least follow on Facebook, share what information you come across, sign the petitions people put up there, and show your support in some other way. You can write letters to your own city councilperson (post copies or message Peg so we can track official inquiries and responses), research other cases of police violence in your own community, pick up and drop off supplies like candles, glow sticks, and sign-making materials, or have a gathering during the week to make signs, chant sheets, or cookies for the Friday demonstrations while talking strategies for citizen action with some like-minded folks. All of that could be really helpful and can be done at your convenience. 

The specific cases in Scottsdale we're most concerned with right now are those of John Loxas, Jason Prostrollo, and David Hulstedt. There are survivors with standing to sue in both instances who are vulnerable to further police and state harassment, including prosecution. David, who was paralyzed by a Scottsdale police bullet in the back (also while holding an infant), is being prosecuted for kidnapping and child abuse to make their shooting of him look justified - they filed charges against him shortly after his family filed a lawsuit against them. Both families will need support in the weeks and months to come so that they don't end up isolated and further victimized - we'll just need to leave it to them to let us know how we can be most supportive. 



Here are some great photos from this past week's candlelight vigil and march, by Robert Haasch. Please come out next Friday, March 8 at 8pm and join us. Be sure to wear black and bring a candle if you can.

Occupy 4 Prisons fundraiser: Angela Davis in Oakland.

Oakland's done a fabulous job with Occupy 4 Prisoners. This fundraiser is coming up at the Grand Lake Theater March 1. Hit it if you can...



UPDATE, MARCH 3, 2012 
This is how the benefit went, with the link below that you can hit to catch some of it:

What a night!  A benefit fundraiser for Occupy4Prisoners brought in a crowd of between 300-350 people. In addition to the screening of newly released documentary, Broken On All Sides, the program consisted of music, an introduction by the Truth Mob, and a line up of eloquent speakers, including Barbara Becnel, Elaine Brown, and Angela Davis.   Statements from incarcerated individuals, giving voice to those behind walls,  included a call-in from from Kevin Cooper from San Quentin's death row. it was an amazingly successful night that exceeded our expectations, and left me breathless with hope and amazement.

Heartfelt gratitude is extended to Allen Michaan.   His longstanding generosity and support of the movement is legendary.  He made this event possible.  

A huge thank you to everyone who attended last night's event and/or supported it in any way.  Special thanks to Crystal and  Barbara for their efforts to help create the program, and to Denise for bringing the Message Wall and organizing the Truth Mob.  And thanks to each of the musicians,  speakers, readers, assistants, and other individuals who contributed to the program, publicity,  and/or logistics. 

For those who could not be there, the program portion of the event is available on ustream at this link:  http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/20818490

The film itself was a serous eye opener about the Prison Industrial Complex, and it got rave reviews.  Here's one,  posted on twitter,  by OakFoSho: 

What an EPIC documentary. Tears in my eyes. Everyone see "Broken on all Sides." Wow#Occupy4Prisoners #OO #OWS 
 
One of the highlights of the evening was  an stunning vocal performance 
by Elaine Brown 
after the screening
. Tributes to the Jackson brothers, one each to George and Jonathan,  were moving and powerful. 
 
 Elaine ended the program with "We Shall Overcome."  
 
The glow of this night will will linger for some time.  I had previewed the film twice before on a small screen.  But seeing it in a theater with over 300 clapping, cheering activists  was a completely different experience!  Scenes such as an Occupy Philadelphia march with a speaker calling "We Need a Movement! " or "Let us believe that if Harriet Tubman could organize slaves without an ipad, email, cell phones... that surely we can organize people across the United States of America now!"  were moments not to be forgotten. 

We do have a Movement,  and we are organizing.  That is clear. 

Truly blessed and honored to do this, in solidarity with each of you.  

Rachel Victoria

Friday, February 24, 2012

Prosecuting Innocence: The Scottsdale Police shooting of David Hulstedt

follow link to:




Another victim of Scottsdale police violence has come to my attention this weekend, thanks to one of the local activists hot on the Scottsdale Police Department's tail, who posted the link to this guy's family's website to Facebook.

David has a psychiatric disability, according to court records, and was having a crisis at the time this all happened - they'll try to make that work against him, so don't let that keep you from supporting him. In fact, it makes it all the more imperative that the community embrace him and his family right now to assure that he's not further brutalized by the criminal justice system - at least, not without a world of witnesses. 

Let the following be a lesson to all who own a video camera - keep it out and use it whenever you see the police stop someone. You never know whose life you may save. If we're truly dedicated to fighting police brutality, the place to start would be to see him through the effort to criminally prosecute him after he filed suit against the bastards. 
If David or his family are out there and want some support from other folks who are fighting police and prison violence, let me know. My name is Peggy, my number is 480-580-6807


------this occurred in 2008. David's prosecution is on-going------ 

This is the story of David Hulstedt, the young man shot in the back as he walked away from officers Scottsdale, Arizona police officers on November 7, 2008. David, who was unarmed, and carrying his toddler, is now paralyzed. David's little daughter suffered a fractured skull when she fell to the ground. As widely reported in the media, Mr. Hulstedt was undergoing treatment for a mental health condition when he called 911 asking for help from the Arizona Governor. Instead of responding with calm and caring, a Scottsdale police dispatcher broadcast that there was a "crisis" at the residence, and that a little girl was crying in the background, and that his parents were trying to get the little girl away from David who was refusing to give back the baby.

That little girl was just David's daughter who was crying because she needed a new diaper.

The Inappropriate Police Response.

Within minutes, Scottsdale officers ordered David's parents out of the home. David repeatedly called his father, pleading for him to return to the house. His father asked to go back to the house but police would not let him. David also repeatedly called his brother, Eric. In the video to right, Eric explains that he asked police to let him go to his brother. Police refused. David’s father called his lawyer who tried to speak with David, until Police intervened and ordered him to stop.

As you'll hear and see through the video clips to the right, David's family urged the police to let them help David, but police refused. David said he would give his daughter to his brother. Time after time, the family made progress. But the police did everything the could to stop that progress, and even confiscated the cell phones being used by the family.  Police intentionally isolated David from the very support group that he needed. David was never armed. David never threatened police. David never threatened his family. Minutes after police took away David’s lifeline to his family, lawyer and minister, David in desperation allegedly told police: “If you don’t let my brother come inside, I’ll pile drive my daughter into the ground.” But David would not and did not do that. Over the next 20 minutes police negotiators told David that they were there to help him. They were not going to hurt him. They proclaimed themselves “professionals.” They guaranteed David that they would not hurt him. All he had to do was come out with his daughter.

He did.

The Shooting.

David walked outside the house and asked officers to back up. He wanted to go to his Dad. He wanted to go to the street to see his family, not knowing the family had been held in seclusion by Scottsdale Police. Four officers, staged immediately outside the front door, took a couple of steps back to give David some space.

Arizona police officers are trained to safely resolve problems with people in mental crisis by assigning one person to  calmly speak with the patient. Instead of following training, police yelled at David. He was given opposing commands to put up his hands, put down the baby. He was not told he was under arrest. Confused by the contradictory orders, David raised his daughter up over his head and began to walk to the street. He wanted to be with his family. David and the police negotiators wanted a peaceful resolution. As he walked to the street an officer armed with a military assault rifle yelled at him. From across the street another officer armed with an assault rifle joined in the chorus of shouts. David turned to go back to the safety of the home.

The two officers fired their military assault rifles striking David down after he took 3 to 4 steps back towards the home. He was immediately paralyzed and fell forward. David lost his grip on his daughter and she flew down hitting her head on the concrete front walkway. Police, unbelievably, then DRAGGED David's paralyzed body hundreds of yards over rocks and gravel, ripping through his skin, exposing bone.
 
Police Claims.

Police  claimed that the baby was bleeding from her ear when David first walked out of the house. Police claimed they saw blood on the front of David’s shirt. Police claimed that the left side of David’s daughter’s face was deformed and there was blood mixed with mucous coming from her nose. Police claimed that the little girl slid down the front of David and fell from his knee. She fell, police claimed, on the gravel of the front yard. Police told the news media that blood was found inside of the house. Police told medical staff attending to both David and his daughter that David held the girl upside down and threatened to pile drive her into the ground causing police to shoot him. Police dragged David, paralyzed, more than 100 yards over rocks and rough terrain, ripping through his skin and exposing his kneecaps.

Police said David would be arrested when he recovered.  They asked the county prosecutor to charge David with kidnapping and child abuse.
 


Caught On Tape.

Police were unaware for almost two hours after the shooting that the family’s neighbor had videotaped the entire event, including David's attempt at surrender, and the shooting. There was no blood inside the house. There was no blood on the front of David’s shirt. His daughter was not bleeding from either of her ears. But because police told the hospital and Child Protective Services that the little girl was bleeding before David was shot, the little girl was subjected to full body scanning. That proved police fabricated their story. There was no evidence of abuse. 
David is a Victim.

Police have asked that David be criminally charged with aggravated assault, kidnapping and child abuse.  Scottsdale police department's claim that David injured his daughter inside the home was without a basis.  The former Maricopa County Medical Examiner commented that the daughter’s injury was consistent with being caused by falling to the concrete walkway.  The truth that she fell after her father was shot made its way into medical records, despite the false statements made by police officers.  And, the photographic evidence proves how she was injured.

David himself asked  the prosecutor’s office to tell a grand jury the facts, and asked that the two officers who shot him be charged.  Officers who were sworn to protect him, but instead fabricated a crisis situation, then shot him in the back multiple times, ripped skin from his knees -- clear to his bone --  left him paralyzed for life, then created a fictional account for the media about what happened.

Officer James Peters and the consequences of failing to obey.

One of the other community members organizing around the shooting of John Loxas came across this petition today...it's closed, now, but was apparently written in December 2011.

Here's Officer Peters' amended report of the incident, probably after the guy filed a complaint.


-----as posted at CHANGE.ORG------

Drop the charges from a wrongful arrest "Failure to obey a police officer"

I'm a person of minority descent that has had his civil right violated by the Scottsdale, AZ police department. If this injustice has happened to me, it can & will continue to happen to many minority groups. If you are like me and understand the value of having a clean record, and how it pertains to gainful employment & social mobility--these charges should have been dropped the very same day.

My name is Andrew xxxx and I’m a University of Pennsylvania alumnus/student that has had his civil rights violated. I’m an African-American male that was wrongfully arrested in Scottsdale, Arizona on October 28th, 2011. I’m from an impoverished background in Southwest Philadelphia; all of my older brothers have been incarcerated—except for myself. I have worked my way through this, and learned how to be a student. I’ve started my academic career at the Community college of Philadelphia and got into and graduated from one of the best schools in the country--University of Pennsylvania. I’m currently taking courses at the University through my job at one of the University’s libraries. I had taken off from work to see one of my brothers that were locked up in a federal prison in Arizona, when the transgressions occurred. I have a letter here that I’ve sent to the Scottsdale Police and various Arizona/Philadelphia/New York non-profit organizations to solicit help of any kind, please read and thank you in advance for doing so:


Scottsdale Police Department
9065 E. Via Linda
Scottsdale, AZ 85258


To Whom It May Concern:

My name is Andrew xxxxx, I’m a University of Pennsylvania alum and current student that has had his civil liberties trampled upon. On the night of October 28, 2011, I was wrongfully arrested and charged by police officer Peters (badge# 745).

First we were unlawfully stopped, Mr. Rawle xxx and Ms. Megan xxxx were the passengers in the front seat--while I had sat in the backseat. When stopped, Officer Peters had asked for license and registration from Mr. xxx. While sitting in the backseat, Officer Peters’ assisting officer had asked me “If I had I.D?” I had replied to him, “I’m sorry officer, but I’m from out of state and I did not know that I would have to provide I.D—if I’m in the backseat.” Officer Peters hearing this, looked into the car and threatened to “pull me out of the car.” In disbelief, I had asked him again what did he say? He yelled, “If you don’t show the officer your I.D, I will pull your ass out of the car!” After he yelled that at me, I had showed the other officer all of the identification I had on my person. While handing him my identification, I had asked for his name & badge number—a question which he had ignored, so I had asked again with no avail. After inspecting our identification, Officer Peters had asked us to leave our vehicle.

Outside of the vehicle, Officer Peters explains he had stopped our vehicle because the “light was a little dim, and now he was conducting an investigation.” Once again, I had asked for his name and badge number—but this time he had refused to tell me it and replied, “it will be on the citation!” After saying this, he yelled at us to sit on the curb. I’m noticing the area that he had pointed at us to sit, and realizing my herniated disks would become further aggravated if I had sat there, I told the officers “I have a bad back, I cannot sit there because of my bad back—but I’ll be get on my knees in a non-threatening position to comply with whatever it is you want.” Officer Peters’ co-officer had said, “sit on the curb!” And I had replied, “I had hurt my back playing sports “ while getting on my knees and putting my hands slowly to the ground. That is when Officer Peters had yelled, “get your ass on the curb or I’m going to arrest you!” I have a bad back, I had replied—while in a non-threatening kneeling position. He yelled out, “that’s it I’m arresting your ass for giving me attitude!”

While he was putting the handcuffs on me, I had replied “I’ve never been arrested before, and I’ve come all the way to Arizona for the first time to get arrested.” He then said you keep giving me “attitude.” While in handcuffs in a kneeling position, Officer Peters had continued to yell, threaten, and ask entrapping questions to Mr. Warner and Ms. Fells. I told them that they did not have to answer his questions. He then said, “I’m going to impound your car, it’s gonna get towed—if you don’t answer my questions!” And he had came over to me, and yelled “shut up!” And I had asked him, “why do you keep yelling?” He replied, “Because you keep giving me attitude!” And then he went back to asking inflammatory questions, which I had told them not to answer. And he finally yelled for his partner to take me away from his investigation.

While in handcuffs and sitting in the back of a patrol car, I had asked the officer what I was in handcuffs for. He replied, “Hindering an investigation and failure to obey.” I’d then asked, “when did the investigation start?” Officer Peters’ assisting officer responded, “The investigation started, when we pulled you over.”

When Officer Peters’ approached the vehicle, he read me part of my rights—until his patrol supervisor had pulled up. Then he rolled up the windows in the backseat, and turned up the radio so I couldn’t hear what they were talking about. In that instance, I had feared for my life. But nothing had happened, and I was transported to a holding facility.

After spending the night in a holding cell, Officer Peters had came in and took my information and later read me my rights fully. And then after that, I had told him how wrong he was and how he violated my rights as a citizen of this country. He had admitted guilt to me in our 30 minute discussion on “abuse of power.” I also have two witnesses in the holding cell that could attest to this. Please rectify this situation before it spirals out of control.

Sincerely,

Andrew xxxx

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Prison Abolition and Survivors of Sexual Assault/Domestic Violence






I really want prisoners to weigh in on this issue, and they've made an invitation by accommodating entries in handwriting and encouraging the distribution of this call-out in print, so if you have loved ones in jail or prison who are survivors of violence, please print this up and send it to them. If they mail their submission back to me (Arizona Prison Watch/ PO Box 20494 / PHX, AZ 85036) I'll turn it in. 

DUE DATE: APRIL 15, 2012

Some really good resources on anti-violence and the prison industrial complex are available at:


 --------------------

ANTHOLOGY CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS:

Working Title: Challenging Convictions: Survivors of Sexual Assault/Domestic Violence Writing on Solidarity with Prison Abolition.

Completed submissions due: April 15, 2012.

Like much prison abolition work, the call for this anthology comes from frustration and hope: frustration with organizers against sexual assault and domestic violence who treat the police as a universally available and as a good solution; frustration with prison abolitionists who only use “domestic violence” and “rape” as provocative examples; and, frustration with academic discussions that use only distanced third-person case studies and statistics to talk about sexual violence and the Prison Industrial Complex (PIC). But, this project also shares the hope and worth of working toward building communities without prisons and without sexual violence. Most importantly, it is anchored in the belief that resisting prisons, domestic violence, and sexual assault are inseparable.

Organizers of this anthology want to hear from survivors in conversation with prison abolition struggles. We are interested in receiving submissions from survivors who are/have been imprisoned, and survivors who have not.  Both those survivors who have sought police intervention, as well as those who haven't, are encouraged to submit. We are looking for personal essays and creative non-fiction from fellow survivors who are interested in discussing their unique needs in anti-violence work and prison abolitionism.

Discussions of sexual assault, domestic violence, police violence, prejudice within courts, and imprisonment cannot be separated from experiences of privilege and marginalization. Overwhelmingly people who are perceived to be white, straight, able-bodied, normatively masculine, settlers who are legal residents/citizens, and/or financially stable are not only less likely to experience violence but also less likely to encounter the criminal injustice system than those who are not accorded the privileges associated with these positions. At the same time, sexual assault and domestic violence support centers and shelters are often designed with certain privileges assumed. We are especially interested in contributions that explore how experiences of race, ability, gender, citizenship, sexuality, or class inform your understandings of, or interactions with cops, prisons, and sexual assault/domestic violence support.

Potential topics:

·      What does justice look like to you?
·      Perspectives on police and prisons as a default response to sexual assault
·      What do you want people in the prison abolition movement with no first hand experiences of survivorship to know?
·      How did you overcome depression/feelings of futility when dealing with these systems?
·      Critical reflections on why the legal system has or has not felt like an option for you
·      Perspectives on the cops/PIC participating in rape culture
·      Restorative justice and other methods for responding to sexual violence outside of the PIC? (if you are a settler be conscious of appropriations of indigenous methods)
·      How have you felt about conversations you’ve had about the PIC?
·      How sexual assault inside and outside of the PIC is treated by organizers against sexual assault, domestic violence, and the PIC
·      Police and prison guards as triggers
·      Responding to sexual assault and domestic violence when communities weren’t there for you
·      What the legal system offers survivors and what it doesn’t
·      Rants at manarchists, the writers/directors of televised cop dramas, and communities that let you down
·      Survivor shaming for reporting and for not reporting to police

Please submit first-person accounts, critical reflections, essays, and creative non-fiction to survivorsinsoli@gmail.com by April 15, 2012 with “Submission” as the subject line.

Please:


·      One submission per person;

·      English language (American spelling);
·      Pseudonyms welcomed, as are name changes in the written piece.

If you have access to a computer:
     ·      12 point Times New Roman font;
·      Submit as an attached document (.doc files preferred).

Passing this on to someone without computer access:
·      We accept scans of hand written letters (please include contact info for the author);
·      Contact us if you require a mailing address.

Early submissions are encouraged. First time authors encouraged.

If you have questions, we welcome emails to survivorsinsoli@gmail.com with “Question” in the subject line. We are looking for both shorter pieces of writing and longer pieces, but if your piece is more than 20 pages consider sending us an email to run the idea by us.

Please attach a short biography that you are comfortable sharing with the editors (200 word max.). This is not about your credentials, but getting to know you and where you are coming from. All information you provide will be kept confidential.

About selection and editing: Submissions will be reviewed by a group of readers who will consider if and how each written piece could contribute to the finished project. Each piece will be read by at least two readers who will contribute to the decision to accept/reject/edit the piece. Some of us working on this project have been made to feel alone as both survivors and abolitionists. Some of us have managed to carve spaces within these communities. Now we are looking to open the conversation and hear from people we’ve never met, who have struggled to practice politics in a rape culture and police state. We believe that the needs of survivors matter in these movements, and we don’t need someone else to speak for us or about us as case studies and numbers. We want to hear from you.

For more information please visit: http://survivorsinsoli.blogspot.com/

Please distribute widely.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Dear Governor Brewer: Time to FIRE Chuck Ryan.

Many folks wonder what I do with the art I create, and why I bother chalking sidewalks when they just get washed off once I leave. The chalkings are multi-functional: they leave a message for the person or entity whose walk I'm chalking, and when I shoot them they deliver my message all over the world on Facebook and my blogs. I have a really cheap, crummy camera, so I learned to make the most of it by manipulating the colors to make these postcards with. I send them to decision-makers, allies, prisoners, media, etc. to raise awareness and show solidarity and struggle with those suffering the most. Feel free to download any of my art and do the same. I do this all with nothing more complex than the Windows image editing program that came with Vista.

We do still have a crisis in the prisons, by the way. The ACLU is about to sue over medical neglect, but the culture of contempt for prisoners and the pervasive despair and violence behind bars is unchecked. It's a poison that trickles from the top down. By far, those dying are the most vulnerable among us - not the vicious punks or molesters people think are the ones who get it in prison, and therefore don't care about. Those committed to protecting the rights of the mentally ill and developmentally disabled in the community should especially care about what's happening in the state prisons, because that's where so many are still heading.

This is what I did with the mural Kini Seawright and I did yesterday at the Herberger - her son was murdered for loving a Mexican. Brewer needs to be held accountable, too: All these deaths after all, are not only Chuck Ryan's - they're hers - and the longer she leaves him in charge the more culpable she is for the next suicide or homicide of someone's child, mother, brother, or friend in prison.





































Anyone who is similarly moved to communicate with the Governor may want to do so in a public forum, so you can't be as easily ignored. 

The address for the Arizona Republic is: 

 Letters to the Editor
The Arizona Republic
P.O. Box 1950
Phoenix, AZ 85001

Letters may also be faxed to (602) 444-8933. Or contact them via the on-line form.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Fight Prison Violence: FIRE CHUCK RYAN.

My friend, Kini, and I went down to the Herberger Theater in downtown Phoenix this morning, and chalked a huge mural on their Van Buren Street sidewalk - which happens to be facing the Arizona Republic Building. We hoped it would get someone's attention there, but they tend to ignore me so as not to encourage my protests. It's okay - we got what we needed and left. I'll catch up with them via the US Mail.

Kini's son, Dana Seawright, was murdered in Lewis Prison in July 2010; chalking a memorial for her son and the other prisons who have died in the custody of the Arizona Department of Corrections under Chuck Ryan and Jan Brewer was pretty personal. We both agree that in order to stop this body count from climbing, Chuck and his henchmen must leave NOW. The poison, the contempt for prisoners and their families, begins there and trickles down.

Anyway, we set out on this morning's mission because this was Occupy 4 Prisoners day across the country. This is how our own small action turned out - it made for some awesome postcards about deaths in custody. 

Thanks to Patty at the Herberger today, by the way, for appreciating what we were trying to do and not washing it up as soon as we left. Sorry to leave you such a big job to clean up.


























these were both shots taken of the sidewalk from the roof, courtesy of the good people at the Herberger.

Occupy4Prisoners: North America's Political Prisoners



February 7, 2012

The legal systems of Canada and the U.S. make no separate recognition of "political prisoners." This encourages police malfeasance and a bending of the legal system to cope with political protest in the same manner as crimes of self-interest. Confused by the difference, society prefers to sort its members into "good" and "bad". As totalitarian controls by government increase, more people will probably assert their humanity and the numbers of political prisoners will grow, but in the process criminalize entire groups of people who have strong convictions, integrity, loyalty to community, and care deeply about what happens to their country, society, humanity.

In Canada the concept of what is a political prisoner, varies by community. Native people have been political prisoners for generations, as have the poor, confined by prison or circumstance. Due to the Canadian government's Middle East policies which involve strong interface with Israel, media focus on political prisoners for the past ten years concerns Muslims as suspects in the 'war on terrorism.' The high profile political prisoners were arrested on Canadian Security Certificates which according to Canada's Supreme Court , ignored the victims' human rights and needed adjustment. The Conservative government's compliance was minimal and inadequate. Held on a Security Certificate for 12 years in detention and house arrest, without charge or knowing his accusers, Mohammad Mahjoub was released from several limitations of his freedom, February 3rd, by Federal Court in Toronto which found the intrusive surveillance unreasonable. Mahjoub had previously chosen to return to prison rather than inflict the government's surveillance on his family.

With current trials of G20 protestors and an "Occupy" movement which may last, Canada begins to field the edge of its conscience. June 2010 in Toronto, thousands of Canadians protested the G20 conference of global leaders and were met with illegal police tactics, massive pre-planned detention, threats, and abuse of the peoples' human rights. With occasional possibly 'staged' exceptions, the protests were non-violent. According to The Dominion, of the more than eleven hundred arrested, 66 remain in legal battles while some still face charges. Seven are serving sentences for their participation: Ryan Rainville, Mandy Hiscocks, Alex Hundert, Leah Henderson, Peter Hopperton, Erik Lankin (released Jan. 26th), Adam Lewis, and Greg Noltie-Rowley.

Mandy Hiscocks, convicted of "Counseling to Commit Mischief and Counseling to Obstruct Police," faced the judge before her sentencing and objected to his comparison of G20 protest tactics to the illegal and racist tactics of the Ku Klux Klan. She noted there's no comparison between G20 protest tactics and the K.K.K.'s, and that it was tactics the judge objected to rather than the Klan's insistence on White Supremacy. She is a credit to Canadians and was sentenced to from 20 months to 2 years.

A historical note about the Klan: a White Supremacist group in the U.S. South the Ku Klux Klan was one result of the U.S. Civil War and Northern Occupation. While the K.K.K. claimed to protect Southern values its insistence on White Supremacy betrayed the people's tradition. In the old South insurrections of black slaves and poor whites joined forces and were an ongoing primary resistance to enslavement. This brought extreme control mechanisms to keep the groups apart. White Supremacy always serves the machinery of controls. The K.K.K. relied on lynching effected by mobs within a hierarchy of authority. By the 1960's the murders became more clandestine with overt burning of crosses and gatherings as symbolic shows of assent. During the 1960's the U.S. K.K.K. increasingly included FBI, Tobacco and Firearms, local law enforcement and other covert informants. These were implicated in the murders of civil rights workers and Blacks. The Klan's effect on white communities through its code of silence, the fact that it denied its victims the chance to answer any accusations against them (familiar in current U.S. law on detentions and Canadian Security Certificates), and exclusion of non-white enterprises, provides an unspoken more polished interface with contemporary neo-conservatives in the U.S. and Canada. In Canada the subliminal strain of White Supremacy is rarely addressed directly, in a culture increasingly formed by intellectual management.

On the U.S. rolls of political prisoners the culture's areas of intolerance remain constant. In this century so far Muslim suspects in a "war on terrorism" have been primary targets within a framework that has brutally suppressed Blacks and all dissidents, an ongoing oppression with repeating patterns of targeting, entrapment, or selective application of the law in crimes unrelated to the moral crime the dissident is addressing. Revolutionaries whose crimes are a result of being trapped into direct confrontations with police could be considered prisoners of war and granted nominal rights at least under Geneva Conventions.

Increasingly at risk are community leaders, "Occupy" activists, veterans, and any who subscribe to an internationally recognized code of human rights. Application of international laws, including the Geneva Conventions, is discouraged in the U.S., if permitted at all. Because application threatens the fabric of U.S. law, government targets are 'processed' with whatever grey area of crime can discredit them most effectively.

On Feb. 3rd U.S. Federal Court in Syracuse forfeited a chance to correct its injustice, and Dr. Rafil Dhafir was re-sentenced to his original term of 22 years in prison, with close to a million dollars restitution required. Dr. Dhafir had supplied Iraqi children with medicines and food in an attempt to save those he could. His actions affirmed Islamic religious law and Judeo-Christianity . His efforts were effectively stopped by prosecution and imprisonment. He was charged and convicted on 59 counts for breaking "Sanctions," fraud, tax evasion, etc.. The thorough vetting of the case by all U.S. agencies involved, left out of the equation a genocide of the Iraqi people.

Community leaders are taken out of community by charges intended to disgrace them, rather than by confronting the necessity of their moral stands. It's such a customary practice that in Boston, the incarceration of Charles Turner passed unnoticed by national media. A Harvard graduate in the days when Harvard accepted token people of colour, Turner was unpretentious, easy going but very careful. Years later, as a community leader in Boston representing Blacks and the poor he was elected to the Boston City Council. An effective outspoken Councillor he was provably targeted for disgrace by an FBI operation, then charged with extortion for accepting a campaign contribution from an informant applying for a liquor license, and then not telling FBI agents 'the truth.' Without guile and loyal to his constituency, Turner tried to explain the framing in court. He's serving a three year sentence in West Virginia and Boston is left with the message: if they can do that to Charles Turner they can to anyone.

Mumia Abu-Jamal as a journalist was known as a "voice of the voiceless" covering the dispossessed of Philadelphia. He was taken out of paid work by a murder charge. After a corrupt trial and years on death row international pressure, community outrage, the U.S. court system and Philadelphia's D.A., managed to grant him a reprieve. No longer subject to the death penalty and freed from death row Abu-Jamal was transferred to Mahanoy State Correctional Institution's "Restrictive housing unit," ie. solitary confinement, with no access to the media. Finally on January 27th Prison Radio [access:< http://prisonradio.wordpress.com/ >] could report his release into the general prison population.

Long-time political prisoner Dave Gilbert's Love and Struggle: My Life in the SDS, The Weather Underground, and Beyond was published by PM Press, 2011 and is currently being launched at 'alternative' venues throughout North America. Gilbert grew out of Boston and New York student anti-war resistance in the Sixties, worked the Weather Underground during the Seventies, was arrested in 1981 with a unit of the Black Liberation Army. He's serving a 75 year minimum sentence for involvement in the deaths of 2 police and a guard during a Brinks robbery to raise operating costs. His other published works include: AIDS Conspiracy?

Tracking Down the Real Genocide. Gilbert was one of a few North-eastern U.S. whites who could work with a Black American resistance that lacked the option of non-violence.
Marilyn Buck died August 3, 2010 in Brooklyn New York, shortly after her release on July 15, 2010, from federal prison. She was serving eighty years of sentences (accused of supplying arms to the Black Liberation Army, of complicity in Assata Shakur's escape from prison, of bombings in the U.S. and internationally). With most of her co-defendants released (Susan Rosenberg received pardon from President Clinton), Bush's Justice Department granted her an early release on presumptive parole. On Jan. 21, 2010 she wrote "...been battling since Oct. to be treated medically. Found out I have a sarcoma, just got out of hospit. post-surgery..." It was the last letter I received. She was transferred to a hospital prison, and dead less than seven months later. She was an American poet.

Lynne Stewart, the U.S. court appointed attorney for Islamic Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman, is over 71 and fighting cancer as well as diabetes in a U.S. prison. Her appeal challenging the length of her sentence goes to court February 29th in Manhattan: the government extended her prison time from 28 months to 10 years after she bravely joked about the initial sentence on the courthouse steps. Her conviction: communicating on behalf of her blind and imprisoned client. She never should have been sentenced to jail. Known through her life's work as an uncompromising lawyer for the disadvantaged of varying political beliefs, her case represents a clear public attempt to intimidate attorneys representing fundamental human rights.

There are other political prisoners who were/are thinking of the people, and without self-interest. There are a lot of them. There will be more, of all ages. The paradox is that many are in no way "criminal" but simply the articulate and deeply caring people of their communities.

Partial sources available online:
"My statement to the court ," Mandy Hiscocks, Jan. 16, 2012, rabble.ca; "Mandy’s Blog," current [access:< http://boredbutnotbroken.tao.ca >];
"Mandy Hiscocks. given a 20-24 month sentence for Toronto 2010 G20 Conspiracy," anon., Jan 19, 2012, Infoshop News;
"Girr Rowley sentenced to 9 Months for G20 Action," Jan. 26, 2012 & "Erik Lankin Released!" Feb. 3, 2012,
Guelph Anarchist Black Cross; "G20 Fallout Continues," Shailagh Keaney, Jan. 13, 2012, The Dominion;
"Dr. Dhafir was resentenced today to 22 years," Feb. 3rd, 2012, DhafirTrial; "Dhafir Ordered to Serve 264-Month Jail Term on Resentencing," FBI, Feb. 6, 2012,
7thSpace Interactive; "Court: Government fails to show that it is reasonable to keep Mahjoub under conditions," Press release, Feb. 3, 2012,
People's Commission Network apprec. nowar-paix; "Political Prisoners Update," J.B.Gerald, Jan. 31, 2012, nightslantern.ca;
"Chuck Civil Hearing @ Monday @ 9am," Admin., Feb. 3, 2012, Support Chuck Turner; "Support Chuck Turner," website, Feb. 3, 2012 [access:< http://supportchuckturner.com >]; Website, current, Boston City Councilor Chuck Turner [access":< http://www.chuckturner.us/ >];

"The Torture of Mumia Abu-Jamal Continues off Death Row," Hans Bennett, Jan. 23, 2012, The Bullet; "David Gilbert, Political Prisoner," current, Kersplebedeb; "Lynne Stewart Appeal Brief Filed," April 1, 2011, and "Lynne Stewart Reply Brief Filed," August 4, 2011, Justice for Lynne Stewart [access:< http://lynnestewart.org/ > ].

Posted on nightslantern.ca at http://nightslantern.ca/prisonupdate3.htm