• The Mommy Issue

    “This Court is a Farce!”

    The Mommy Issue

    With a decade of organizing experience corresponding with and providing support for incarcerated folks, Neal Shirley gives us the scoop on struggles on both sides of the wall with Prisons are for Burning.

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    Neal Shirley has been involved in a range of (anti) prison related groups for about eight years. Most recently he’s been involved with a project that corresponds with prisoners and solicits and disseminates their news and analysis across North Carolina's prison system. He co-authored the book Dixie Be Damned: 300 Years of Insurrection in the American South. He makes a living doing food service work and teaching mixed martial arts to kids of all ages, and spends his free time fighting in cages and scheming new ways to deep-fry southern delicacies.

    Flag burn

    Art by Micah Bazant

    Prisons are for Burning

    “This Court is a Farce!”

    The summer is heating up y’all, and by my estimation it will also be a hot fall.

    Here is an incomplete list of some of the notable, exciting, or horrible things that have been happening on both sides of the prison walls in good old North America.

    Starting on May Day, the absolutely tireless prisoners of Holman Correctional’s C-Block kicked off another action. This time, a labor strike that affected production at the license plate factory, among other places. It lasted roughly nine days, when Alabama DOC cleverly brought in minimum custody prisoners. That tactic perhaps foreshadows the state’s strategy for dealing with coordinated work stoppages and other actions in September. Nonetheless, the Alabama legislature seemed to take notice, and promptly cancelled their plans to build four new supermax prisons. Just two weeks later the hated warden of Holman retired, and I’m guessing it might have something to do with the stabbing he suffered a couple months earlier. Oops!

    Unfortunately the state has retaliated – James “Dhati Khalid” Pleasant of the Free Alabama Movement was transferred to Donaldson Correctional Facility and placed in seg, where he was stripped down and sprayed with a chemical agent. You can call the warden at 205-436-3681 to tell them to back the fuck off.

    Raven Rakia wrote a pretty decent article hyping the tactic of prison work stoppage as contrasted with recent strategies of hunger-striking. Although, I would have liked to see the article mention some of the many other tactics prisoners choose, from sabotage to rioting to escape.

    Prisoners in Florence, AZ are filing a lawsuit against 33 correctional officers and their Corrections Director Charles Ryan for ordering 55 inmates to stand in a single file line outside in over 100 degree heat. Among the abuses cited by prisoners was an elderly inmate in his 70s who was beaten from behind for failing to get in line quickly enough. Seriously, what kind of human garbage beats a 70-year-old man for not getting in line? It’s like these CO’s think they’re in an audition for the role of Nazi-extras in Raiders of the Lost Ark.

    In Mexico, a new issue of El Anticarcelero is now out – an anti-prison publication produced by anarchist political prisoners and self-organized prisoner networks.

    And on that note, hats off to the courageous teachers, grandparents, anarcha-punks, encapuchadas, and all the others escalating the struggle for dignity and autonomy in Oaxaca. Rest in power Salvador “Chava” Garcia, anarchist and radio journalist, and the at least eight others murdered by Mexican police. Chinga la migra, chinga la policía, chinga la economía.

    June 11, a day of solidarity and action for long-term anarchist and eco-prisoners, came and went with letter-writing, banner-drops, noise demos, and small attacks carried around North America. I especially liked this short report from comrades in Bloomington. Look at all you can get done when you’re too far away to have fun at either the beach or the mountains!

    That weekend there was also the Fight Toxic Prisons convergence in DC. The highlights for yours truly were getting to listen to Ramona Africa and Eric McDavid on the same panel, and above all hearing the story of a young Theresa Shoatz, daughter of former Panther Russell Maroon Shoatz, kicking a prison guard in the balls on her way to visiting her dad. What a badass.

    A new collaborative publication and blog was just released, “To Struggle Means We’re Alive:” Prisoners Speak Out on Ferguson, Baltimore, and the Ongoing Revolt Against the Police. There are some absolute gems of wisdom, insight, and anguish from prisoners in there, connecting the last two years of anti-cop antagonism on the outside with the increased fierceness of resistance on the inside.

    Sadly, anarchist Eric King has been sentenced to ten years for a Molotov attack on a Congresswoman’s office in solidarity with the Ferguson uprising. His perseverance and character have been incredible; his statement to the court began, “This court is a farce. I stand by what I did. I’m happy I did it. I’m sorry that I got caught.”

    A number of Wisconsin prisoners in solitary confinement just came off of hunger strike. Their supporters have been tireless, and some of them who are part of the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee recently released this document.

    An autonomous collective, WeFight2Live, is asking folks to pass the hat for Carlos aka Bayna-Kehkiem El Amin’s legal fund. Bayna is a queer black man who is currently being held in Riker’s, charged with a hate crime, and has been awaiting sentencing for over a year. If you read Bayna’s story, it’s clear that it’s actually one of self-defense.

    Last but not least, should you choose to accept it, there are two pieces of “prisons are for burning” homework. First, if you can donate some of your next paycheck to help pay the medical bills of comrades injured while successfully shutting down Nazis in Sacramento. Should you need inspiration, I suggest watching this short clip on repeat.

    Also, send a little money to the commissary of each of these Nebraska prison rebels. Even the tiniest bit helps:

    (Inmate Name and #, Tecumseh SCI, P.O. Box 900, Tecumseh, NE 68450)

    Daryl Eskridge #72481
    Yaking Dunn #76188
    Clenton Sanders #68620
    Deanthony Smith #79991
    Justin Busch #76147
    David Casillas #74035
    Clyde Flemons #78260
    Shaquille Renshaw #78812
    Frederick Gooch #65759

    Write to Andrew at: Lincoln CC, 3216 W. Van Doren St., Lincoln, NE 68522

    Andrew Lyle #75554

    Lots of love to ItsGoingDown.org’s “bloc party” for being on top of things. Be sure to check their site for updates on these stories.

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