Registration is now open for Running Down the Walls (RDTW), a noncompetitive 5k run/walk/roll event for raise money and build solidarity with political prisoners. Austin’s RDTW will take place Saturday, September 11, 2021, at 6pm (rain or shine) at Govalle Neighborhood Park. Complete event information is available on this page and the registration form his here!
Help us elevate stories of grim conditions due to COVID19 in US prisons.
Prisoners across the US write to us detailing grim conditions related to COVID19. Help us elevate their stories – demand better treatment, accountability, and justice!
Since COVID19 reached the US, there has been more mainstream attention on the injustices that run rampant in the prison industrial complex. In this historical moment, we wish to use this attention to effect systemic change. Fearing for the safety of those behind bars, we created an informational pamphlet about COVID19 along with a survey. We mailed it to around 200 inside contacts. Our friends at Inside Books Project (IBP) mailed upwards of 1,000 surveys. We have heard back from hundreds of people. Trends of injustices noticed so far are limited information about COVID19 from prison officials, lack of food, inaccessibility to medical care, and disregard from prison officials for CDC guidelines (such as social distancing, wearing face masks, sanitation protocol, etc). One prisoner writes “There have been guards who come around and make smart remarks such as ‘I hope all of you catch this COVID-19 virus and die.’”
With the consent of our inside contacts, we have compiled a spreadsheet logging all collected data. The spreadsheet is a living document, which continues to grow as we receive additional responses. Our goal in sharing this publicly is to make the data accessible to others who may be able to help boost these stories. We encourage others to use these data to raise awareness of the conditions many are facing inside of prisons during the pandemic.
Below is a link to our spreadsheet with redacted identifying information to protect the privacy of the respondents.
Additionally, let us know if there are other ways you would like to be involved in these efforts. We can be reached via Facebook:
We created an informational zine for prisoners in Texas, and their loved ones regarding the COVID19 pandemic. We adapted this from a zine created by our friends Blue Ridge ABC.
Prisons, jails, and detention centers pose a serious health risk to folks on the inside, where CDC guidelines such as social distancing are impossible. Lack of information, adequate sanitation supplies, and access to medical care amplify the health risks that currently incarcerated people face. We are mailing this zine to our mailing list in hopes of spreading information regarding what we know about COVID19 as of now, and ways folks can advocate for themselves. We also hope to open up a dialogue about what peoples needs are inside.
Please feel free to mail this zine to your contacts inside, adapt the information to be applicable to your jurisdiction, etc.
Ready to print PDF – be sure to select landscape/ two-sided/ short-edge binding in the printer settings
PDF for reading online
Download and print the zine! Please distribute widely leading up to and past Juneteenth!
Bamboozled, Hoodwinked, Duped and Tricked
(The Fraudulent Good Time/Work Time Credit System inside Texas Prisons)
By Keith ‘Malik’ Washington & Norris’ ‘Fajr’ Hicks
Co-founders of the End Prison Slavery in Texas – Movement Peace and Blessings Sisters and Brothers! During the 85th Legislative Session which began in January 2017 we saw Prisoner Rights Advocate Jennifer Erschabek lobby hard on behalf of Texas prisoners in order to push forward on parole reform efforts. Texas State Representative Senfronia Thompson crafted House Bill 2120 which would have directed the Parole board to recognize the Good Time and Work Time credits of all Texas prisoners. Prisoners with aggravated sentences would have been able to be Parole eligible sooner.
The Bill died in Committee. However, the efforts of Jennifer Erschabek and Rep Thompson should not be ignored or taken lightly. In light of the ultra-conservative Legislature which exists in Texas this bill HB2120 was a small step in the right direction.
One of the key things we lacked in 2017 was free-world support from the families and friends of prisoners in Texas. This is why we have put together this information in order to educate the public and raise their awareness. Please listen to what I am saying: Good Time, according to its legal definition may be discretionary. Good Time is awarded according to a prisoner’s time earning status and for maintaining good behavior/conduct. To the contrary, Work Time is earned!
TDCJ does not pay prisoners for the work and labor they perform. Work and Labor that does not just help maintain the prisons they are housed in but in some cases actually generates a profit!
Instead, TDCJ allegedly awards work-time. By it’s legal definition, the value of work time is earned time, which should in fact result in the reduction of a prisoner’s sentence! But Texas has gamed the system.
The application of work-time, should not be discretionary or arbitrarily applied. Either work-time/earned time should count towards the reduction of a prisoner’s sentence, or ALL TEXAS PRISONERS SHOULD BE PAID A FAIR WAGE OR BOTH!
If the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles and TDCJ persist in ignoring the actual value of work-time and with-holding said credits and benefits from TDCJ prisoners, I propose that both agencies be investigated immediately for violating Texas state and Federal Fraud Statutes.
As members of the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee (IWOC) WE encourage all prisoners and their family members to think seriously about joining and supporting our Industrial Union Branch (IU 613). Did any of you pay attention to those Striking School Teachers in West Virginia?? That is an example of Union Power and Solidarity! There are thousands upon thousands of Incarcerated Workers in Texas Prisons whose voices need to be heard now!
We are planning to hold a rally/protest in Austin and Houston on June 19th, 2018 which seeks to draw support and raise awareness to our movements/campaign which seek to End Prison Slavery in Texas and amend the 13th Amendment of the US Constitution. Sponsors to be announced.
We have teamed up with the IWOC and put together some Core Demands which we are requesting that you share with your friends and family members so that they may contact Texas Legislators on our behalf! When Texas Legislators start receiving e-mails and Faxes from your family and friends it will let them know that we are very serious. Here are the Core Demands we have chosen and we will also provide you with the e-mail and fax numbers of Texas Legislators so you can ask your family and friends to aid us in this endeavor.
1.) The right to Habeas Corpus Counsel
2.) End the ‘Quorum of One’ Practices
3.) Meaningful Good Time/Work Time and Presumptive Parole. Note: When Good Time, Work Time, and Flat Time equal 100%, a Texas Prisoner should be presumed to automatically make parole or discharge
4.) Payment/Compensation for Forced Labor 5.) End the $100 Medical Co-Pay
6.) Establish a TDCJ Oversight Committee NOW!
We are pleading with our free-world members and friends to e-mail, call, or Fax the following Texas Legislators and request that they END PRISON SLAVERY IN TEXAS during the 86th Legislature Session in 2019. It can be done!!!
To learn more about the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee (IWOC) please e-mail them at: email@example.com write: IWW/IWOC, P.O. Box 414304, Kansas City, MO. 64141-4304
Senate Committee on Criminal Justice
The mailing address for all Senators in Austin is:
P.O. Box 12068
Austin, Texas 78711-2068 Email: Senate email: firstname.lastname@example.org example: email@example.com
https://www.txdirectory.com/online/txsenate/ CHAIR: John Whitmire (512) 463-0115 (TEL) (713) 864-8701 (TEL) (713) 864-5287 (FAX) VICE-CHAIR: Joan Huffman (512) 463-0117 (TEL) CHAIR MEMBERS Brian Birdwell (512) 463-0122 (TEL) (254) 776-2843 (FAX) Konni Burton (512) 463-0110 (TEL) (817) 882-8539 (FAX) Brandon Creighton (512) 463-0104 (TEL) (409) 838-9837 (FAX) Sylvia R. Garcia (512) 463-0106 (TEL) (512) 463-0346 (FAX) Bryan Hughes (512) 463-0101 (TEL) (903) 753-8568 (FAX) José Menéndez (512) 463-0126 (TEL) (512) 463-2424 (FAX) Charles Perry (512) 463-0128 (TEL)
(512) 463-2424 (FAX) Texas House Of Representatives: Corrections Committee Capitol Address:
P.O. Box 2910,
Austin, TX 78768 Rep. White, James
512-463-9059 Fax Rep. Allen, Alma A.
(512) 463-0761 Fax Rep. Davis, Sarah
(512) 463-1374 Fax Rep. Romero, Jr., Ramon
(512) 463-1075 Fax Rep. Sanford, Scott
(512) 463-0701 Fax Rep. Schaefer, Matt
(512) 463-0584 Rep. Tinderholt, Tony
(512) 463-8386 Fax
Dare to struggle, dare to WIN. All power to the people!
“To rise beyond the limits of protest, we must chart out our political intentions, organizational goals, and a larger vision about our direction. First, and foremost, militant self-defense, and the capacity for larger militant actions must be addressed at the inception of the organizing process. While we must defend people from capitivity as well as our political centers, we must also be astute enough to realize that we cannot be on the defense indefinitely. The state is in a weaker position today than it has been in decades, and since the moment we go into action is up to us, the government invariably remains in a defensive position. WE CAN ACT WHEN WE CHOOSE, AND WE SHOULD ACT WISELY.” – Burn Down the American Plantation, by the Revolutionary Abolitionist Movement
Revolutionary Greetings, Comrades!
We opened here with some powerful words. I suggest you read the opening statement again and fully understand and grasp the meaning of the message we are trying to convey to you.
In Florida we have witnessed with our own eyes the lengths the state will go to in order to sabotage the effectiveness of our pre-planned direct actions. Our actions seek to shed a discerning spotlight on the corrupt practices of the Department of Corrections. However, pre-emptive lockdowns have been the go-to tactic of numerous prison agencies across the United States.
Like President Trump, they (the corrupt prison agencies) don’t want to be exposed, they want to continue on, in a business as usual manner. It is our duty to disrupt and destroy these slave kamps and gulags.
As illustrated and explained by our comrade Kevin “Rashid” Johnson1, the “lay-down” in Florida prisons was called for extremely valid reasons:
A) forced slave labor – FDOC prisoners are forced to work without pay.
B) grossly overpriced commissary and package system – Florida is extorting the poorest cross-section of society!
C) murdering and abusing prisoners with impunity and then covering it up!
Florida is sanctioning and condoning the outright murder of prisoners in their care. A horrific case in point is the case of Darren Rainey2.
On June 23rd, 2012, Darren Rainey was locked in a scaldingly hot shower by corrections officers who had rigged the shower so they could punish prisoners who “acted out”. These were mentally ill prisoners housed at the Dade Correctional Institution.
In late January, 2018, the State of Florida announced that it would award $4.5 million to Darren Rainey’s family. Nevertheless, Miami-Dade State Attorney, Katherine Fernandez Rundle, refused to prosecute former corrections officers Ronald Clarke and Cornelius Thompson. So in essence, these pieces of trash have been allowed to get away with murder!
One of our key organizational goals in Florida should be to force the resignation of State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle! Fire her now! There is no way in hell that the State approves an award of $4.5 million and no-one is held accountable for the loss of life!
What kind of message do you think is being sent to the pigs? “We protect our own”, that is the message. I want to explore this phrase, “we protect our own”, more thoroughly, but before I delve deeper, allow me to remind all of you that our struggle for prison abolition is a protracted struggle and the state targets the most advanced political elements.
Florida is attempting to place an inciting to riot charge on Comrade Rashid, but this smacks of an elaborate plan to retaliate against Rashid for exercising the same protected free-speech rights as reports and journalists at the Miami Herald!
Compare Rashid’s piece, Florida Prisoners Are Laying It Down, to Monique O Madan’s piece which was published by the Miami Herald on January 3rd 2018, entitled “Florida Prisoners to Protest Again…” Florida is blatantly violating Rashid’s constitutional rights!
We Protect Our Own – The Texas Way!
It is strange to me when I see members of the Attorney General’s office in Texas conspiring to harm a prisoner who witnessed a murder! The pieces of the puzzle are slowly falling into place.
Attorney Jesse Quackenbush is representing a couple of the families here in Texas who have filed multi-million dollar wrongful death lawsuits against the State of Texas. (See: August 2017 issue of Prison Legal News as well as The Intercept, Amarillo.com.)
Comrade Kevin “Rashid” Johnson exposed the pattern of abuse and murder which regularly takes place at the Bill Clements Unit. In 2017, prison officials conspired with members of the Texas Attorney General’s office to get some “payback” for Rashid’s courageous journalism.
First, they planted a weapon in his cell, then they stole all his legal materials, and when these actions generated a public outcry, they conspired with the State of Florida and spirited Rashid off to a Florida prison, deleting all information which would help concerned friends and supporters find Rashid! If it wasn’t for the passionate work of National Lawyers’ Guild Attorney Paul S Holdorf Esq, Rashid may have never been successfully located.
The point I want to make is this: there is a systematic and pervasive problem in US prisons where members of State Attorney General officers collude and conspire with members of their various prison agencies to cover-up the abuse and murder of prisoners and shield murderous prison employees from being held accountable for their actions.
Furthermore, we are also seeing a pattern in which prisoners who identify as humyn rights activists and jail house lawyers are literally being marked for death and systematically targeted for co-ordinated retaliatory actions.
Attorney General of Texas Ken Paxton is complicit in these collusive acts and the FBI and Department of Justice seem to be 100% on board with the “We Protect Our Own” strategy.
Focusing in on Our Demands
Comrades, in each state and country there are prisoners and victims of modern-day slavery perpetrated by agents of the state! As a proud member of the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee (IWOC), I am keenly aware of the problems that prisoners everywhere face. I would like to highlight some of the specific issues our imprisoned comrades face with the hope of promoting greater unity and understanding among our free-world supporters and imprisoned allies – so we can address these issues.
Comrades, please let me be perfectly clear when I say that the pigs in London are just as corrupt as the pigs in Amerika – period.
Chairman Mao Tze Tung said “no investigation, no right to speak”. With that in mind, I’ll let all of you know I’ve done my research on the pigs in the UK4:
- Joy Gardner – murdered by the police in Britain! 1994
- Sean Rigg – died at the Brixton Police Station in August 2001
- Azelle Rodney – murdered by police marksman Anthony Long in April 2005!
- Mark Duggan – murdered by police in Tottenham!
- Shiji Lapite, Brian Douglas, Ibrahima Sey, and Roger Sylvester, all victims of the murderous police in the United Kingdom! The common thread which connects all of these humyn beings? They were minorities, and for the most part they were poor!
If I were to come up with a list of demands for our free-world comrades in the UK, the first would be:
Tell the pigs to stop murdering our people – or else!
Replace every member of the Independent Police Complaints Commission!
Fire every member of the Crown Prosecution Service!
Radical demands? Well, guess what? I’m a radical – surprise!
The criminal justice system in the UK is racist to the core! This is actually supported by information published in a government report and reviewed by Labour MP David Lammy. Lammy found a clear, direct link between ethinicity and the likelihood of receiving a prison sentence if you are Black or Asian and living in the United Kingdom!6
Remarkably, the number of Muslim prisoners more than doubled between 2002 and 2016, going from 5,502 to 12,663. Muslims now represent 4.4% of the total UK population, but 15% of the prison population in the UK. Can you say “Islamophobia”, Theresa May?7
The prisons in the UK are overcrowded and violent, and the Ministry of Justice has decided to ratchet up the stress and discontent levels by banning tobacco in all closed prisons by the summer of 2018!8
Many of the prisons in the UK are suffering from deterioration and infrastructure decay. Prisons such as Long Lartin in Evesham, Worcestershire. Long Lartin is the oldest of the prisons designated as high security in the UK, and the only prison in which prisoners on some wings don’t have toilets and they still have to “slop out”!9
In other words, humyn beings are forced to urinate and defecate in a bucket in their cells, and if the guards decide to not allow them to “slop out”, then they are stuck in a toxic environment.
This is just one of the reasons that I have made an international call for solidarity to end prison slavery on June 19th, 2018.10
Nothing more clearly illustrates modern day slavery in the UK than the ultra-corrupt Indeterminate Sentence for Public Protection (IPP) policy. This scandalous policy, which was supposed to be abolished in 2012, continues to allow over 3,300 prisoners to be held hostages years after serving their minimum tarriff (sentence). Release IPP prisoners in the UK now! End prison slavery in the UK now!
Before I move on, I am officially inviting prisoners in the UK to join the Incarcerated Workers’ Organizing Committee, and as Deputy Chairman of the New Afrikan Black Panther Party (Prison Chapter), I am sending out a special invitation to UK prisoners to join the Black Panthers now!
Be advised that under the banner of the NABPP (PC), we have mass organizations for White Panthers, as well as Asian Panthers, and under the auspices of the United Panther movement I invite all street tribe members in UK prisons to consider joining the movement which seeks to abolish prison slavery.
To join the IWOC, contact:
UK: IWW/IWOC, PO Box 7593, Glasgow, G42 2EX
USA: IWW/IWOC, PO Box 414304, Kansas City, MO, 64141-4304
To join the NABPP (PC), contact:
Comrade Malik, c/o Twitch, PO Box 7907, Austin, Texas, 78713, USA
Amerikkka – the slave state!
Comrades, without a doubt there are common issues which plague every prison population in the world, but now I will list some specific issues and challenges we face here in Amerika!
Indiana – In Indiana, comrades Kwame Shakur and Khalfani Malik Khaldun struggle hard against “legalized” slavery in Amerika.11 In retaliation to their efforts, and the efforts of numerous other politicized prisoners in Indiana, the Indiana Department of Corrections (IDOC) has instituted a new correspondence policy which forbids prisoners to receive or send materials and/or literature on blank paper!
Not only is this an infringement on their 1st Amendment rights, it infringes on their ability to litigate and receive information of any kind! The agency’s main goal is to isolate and silence the voices of all Indiana prisoners.
Alabama – Free Alabama Movement spokespersyn has initiated a Campaign to Redistribute the Pain in 2018.12 These boycott campaigns, spear-headed by FAM, seek to defund and bankrupt the capitalist pig corporations which prey on the poor masses who are trapped in prisons all across the “great” slave state of Amerika.
I am in full support of Bennu’s campaign, and this is one of the many tactics and strategies employed by the IWOC to end prison slavery in Amerika.
I would like to add that many of the high-ranking prison administrators and prison employees who abuse and oppress us are black. Yes, it’s true! So when you think it’s all about “whitey” keeping us down, think again – in ole Alabama there are many Uncle Toms and jeffin-ass House Negroes hurting the people. Remember that.
California – In California, Heshima Denham of the Amend the 13th Movement and Fati Yero Kambon of the WL Nolen Mentorship Program (WLNMP) have been pushing a dynamic initiative entitled: A Proposal for Developing a Community Release Board.13
This would be paired with another initiative referred to as Strategic Release.
The bottomline is this: prisoners in California, especially New Afrikan prisoners, are actually creating realistic avenues for freedom which can be utilized by all.
Kijana Tashiri Askari is the chair of the WLNMP, and he is committed to providing quality education and life skills to a new generation of aspiring freedom fighters and community leaders. Something wonderful is happening inside and outside of California prisons.
On the outside, prison abolitionist Nube Brown of California Prison Focus has teamed up with Marissa Garcia, Anna Marillo and numerous others to form a coalition known as the New Abolitionist Movement.
It is important for all imprisoned activists and freedom fighters to know that, without a dedicated cadre of outside supporters like Nube Brown, Kim Pollak, Mary Ratcliff, Dr Willie Ratcliff, Julie Sands, Noelle Hanrahan, Carole Seligman, Justin Adkins, Victor Wallis, Jamani Montague, and last but not least Brianna of the IWOC, nobody in the free world would hear our voices!
And then there are the unsung sheroes and heroes! Julie Schneyer, Sam Rosen, Ryan Policht, Michael Novick, Twitch Entropy, and our European comrades Annabelle from Prison Watch, Heinz Leitner and Alina Dollat – abolitionists!
Before I end this piece, I want to give a clenched fist salute to Calvin Burnap and Professor Dean Spade in Seattle, Washington.
In Texas, we face numerous problems, and dedicated members of the IWOC have helped us assemble a list of demands we will be requesting our family and friends to present to Texas legislators this year.
On Juneteenth (June 19th, 2018), I am calling for all Texas prisoners and all prisoners throughout the US, and our free-world supporters, to take time to meditate and reflect on past struggles for the abolition of slavery, as well as preparing for the struggle we have ahead of us. The most important thing I am requesting prisoners in Texas to do is contact their family and friends.
We want to provide Texas prisoners with the email addresses and fax numbers of key Texas legislators so prisoners can urge their family and friends to contact them and provide them with our core demands, which are:
1 The Right to Habeas Counsel – Every indigent prisoner in Texas should be appointed Habeas Counsel when filing their 11.07 Habeas Corpus.
2 End the “Quorum of One” practice for the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.
3 Meaningful Good Time/Work Time and Presumptive Parole – When Good Time, Work Time and Flat Time equal 100% of their sentence, a Texas prisoner should be presumed to automatically make parole or discharge!
4 Payment/Compensation for Forced Labor: “No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms” – Article 4, Universal Declaration of Human Rights
5 End the $100 Medical Co-Pay
6 TDCJ Oversight Committee – This is a bill that has been up for a vote in the past two Texas legislative sessions. It will require all grievances to be processed and investigated by an independent outside organization. Prisoners in Texas are dying and being murdered and abused by staff at an alarming rate and we need independent oversight of this corrupt agency right now!14
Comrades, I was just studying the Yule-Winter 2017-2018 edition of Earth First! The Journal of Ecological Resistance.
I came across an article by Al Williams entitled “What We Learnt by Coordinating a Month of Rolling Resistance Against Cuadrilla at Preston New Road.” I came away with some excellent tactics and strategies which we can adopt for our abolition movement.
Direct action is for everyone! Work strikes, hunger strikes, tear these slave kamps down!
Engaging other activist collectives helps form an inclusive, diverse alliance.
Diversity of tactics is key when deploying mutiple direct actions against police forces (or prisoncrats) who know we are coming! (Juneteenth, y’all!)
Alternative media is an important lever when the national news in the UK or US isn’t shining a light on prison slavery or abuse of prisoners.
Corruption, collusion and violence are now endemic throughout the world!
Comrades, I wrote this essay with the intent of promoting international solidarity as we approach Juneteenth. Let’s plan to do something big.
Dare to struggle, dare to win. All power to the people.
Your Brother and Comrade, Malik
Keith “Malik” Washington is a co-founder and chief spokesperson for the End Prison Slavery in Texas Movement, a proud member of the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee and Deputy Chairman of the New Afrikan Black Panther Party Prison Chapter. Malik has been instrumental in calling for the abolition of legalized slavery in Amerika and is very active in the Fight Toxic Prisons campaign. You can view his work at comrademalik.com or you can write him directly at Keith “Comrade Malik” Washington, 1487958, Eastham Unit, 2665 Prison Rd. 1, Lovelady, Texas 75851.
3 Malnourished Prisoner’s Death Reveals Horrific Conditions in a Texas Prison, by Creede Newton, The Intercept, Texas Prisoner was Emaciated and Sick when Killed by Cellmate, Prison Legal News – August 2017, pg 27
5 Exposed: ‘racial bias’ in England and Wales criminal justice system, https://www.theguardian.com/law/2017/sep/08/racial-bias-uk-criminal-justice-david-lammy,
7 The Muslim Prison Population Has Surged, Here’s Why The ‘Stereotypes And Myths’ Are Wrong, http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/lammy-review-muslim-prisoners_uk_59afcaa0e4b0b5e531022f26, https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/lammy-review
8 Smoking bans are sparking a rise in violence and disorder in UK prisons, http://theconversation.com/smoking-bans-are-sparking-a-rise-in-violence-and-disorder-in-uk-prisons-83990
9 Prisons inspector condemns Long Lartin’s ‘cages’ and slopping out, https://www.theguardian.com/society/2012/jan/10/cages-slopping-out-long-lartin-jail, Long Lartin prison criticised over slopping out, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-hereford-worcester-16483319
14 Demands for Battleground 2018/19 by IWOC members
15 Earth First! Journal, Yule 2017/2018, “What We Learnt by Coordinating a Month of Rolling Resistance Against Cuadrilla at Preston New Road” by Al Williams
It is with heavy hearts that we share this message which we received from friends earlier this week.
You can leave a condolence message for Mafundi’s family: https://www.legacy.com/obituaries/name/richard-lake-obituary?pid=1000000187972518&view=guestbook
There will be a public memorial for Richard Mafundi Lake on March 3, 2018 in Birmingham, Alabama.
Mafundi’s decades of schooling the youth in Alabama prisons makes him the progenitor of the Free Alabama Movement and the current, burgeoning prison abolition movement across the country.
Mafundi was one of our longest held political prisoners – 38 Years!
Mafundi served as the National Organizer for the African National Prison Organization in the late seventies and early eighties. He was also a main organizer of the Atmore-Holman Brothers inside the Alabama prison system. He was originally set up on a false robbery charge and convicted of a felony crime. He was a high school senior at the time. He turned his resistance into activism during that first prison term by organizing prisoners against attacking one another at the behest of the guards, establishing basic education and law classes for Black and white prisoners, and putting together a group called Inmates for Action. He remained an activist upon his release; he organized a defense committee for prisoners, support for their families, documentation of police brutalization of the community, corruption, graft – and presented the findings to the City Council and in public forums.
Mafundi was locked up again in September 19, 2001 for allegedly creating a security hazard by writing anti-American propaganda on the black board during an Islamic service. Mafundi stated that he was leading a discussion regarding reparations for Black people for enslavement and centuries of injustices. He was re-imprisoned as a consequence of anti-islamic hysteria after 9/11.
In a recent letter from Bennu Hannibal Ra-Sun, formerly known as Melvin Ray, of the Free Alabama Movement:
Our Elder Richard “Mafundi” Lake used to always express to us the importance of studying our history in our struggle. Baba Mafundi used to say, “Black people can find the answers to all of our problems by studying Black History.”
Then he would say, “See, you got to organize the people.” That precept, ORGANIZE, is one of the pillars of civilization that our Ancestors left to us. They organized! every facet of their life. Indeed, the process of life itself, and all things in the universe, is organized. And if we are to achieve our goal within this movement, then we, too, must organize – because the opposition is already organized.”
TDCJ’s Ad-Seg Program is for Profit not for Rehabilitation: From Sensory Deprivation to Sensory Overload – And Back, by Jason Renard Walker – Deputy Minister of Labor, New African Black Panther Party
After randomly being awakened in the early morning, boarded on the TDCJ transportation bus, then shipped to the Ramsey Unit, a prisoner told me that the experience was like “being snatched from a dungeon and sent to a new wave slave plantation.”
The statement he made is a reality that many prisoners housed in close custody units and solitary confinement cells throughout the state of Texas are experiencing, on a whim.
In fact, the majority of prisoners that are sent to the Ramsey Unit claim that they were forced to board the bus with one small bag of property and the rest was left in their cells, as is, with the mere promise that it would be sent later – a situation I’m all to familiar with.
To “middleman” and profit off of tax, state, and government funded rehabilitation programs, state and prison officials create then embed unproductive and meaningless programs within the many costly pre-existing programs, like the Pamio and CMI psychiatric programs at the Clements Unit and the Ad-Seg Transitional Program (ASTP) here at the Ramsey Unit.
On paper these programs are supposed to help prisoners cope with the physical, mental and psychological stress imposed from countless years of living in solitary confinement-like conditions.
They’ve done everything but that. A special group of “experts”, teachers, therapists and counselors are weaselled onto the state’s payroll as advisors and instructors, but not to help us rehabilitate. No! No! No!
The purpose is to expand the job opportunities for the relatives of ex- and current TDCJ employees, both in the upper echelons and on the lower rungs. This way everything is kept “in the family”, the capital is concentrated and the exploitative practices and for-profit schemes are perpetually passed from one generation to the next. This explains why the grievance supervisor, mailroom supervisor and warden all have relatives (with the same last name) working at the prisons, who are corrupt as ever, and get away with it. It’s a repeated cycle.
But this ASTP program is clearly one that is shifting unknowing prisoners from sensory deprivation to sensory overload, then back to sensory deprivation immediately after the prisoner breaks down from being simultaneously bombarded with the contradictions of solitary confinement. I’ll explain later.
In response, this hasn’t been a concern to the transition team (who are mostly related to prison staff), who are using this program to get free pay checks, ride the clock and use the education building to hold banquets, premature Christmas parties, and gossip with co-workers all day.
On top of which, the 2017 Texas state budget called for a four per cent decrease in funding for the state’s prison system. This amounts to a quarter billion in slashed funds for a system that’s already under pressure. With the pressure valve being an understaffed prison system, over-priced commissary vendor, phone services with sky-high prices, and the reduction of limited non-Texas harvested food items, like fish, cheese and coffee etc, which is part of TDCJ’s budget.
But even though this budget cut was called for, this hasn’t affected the TDCJ’s efforts in using a compromised budget to design unnecessary and ineffective programs that call for expanding the annual state payroll, which has a domino effect on TDCJ’s inability to get a budget increase.
How the scheme works:
Originally the ASTP program was designed as a “voluntary” program for ad-seg prisoners only. By their own written policy (which may have changed), prisoners have to be a line class I (one) or higher to be eligible.
The chosen are picked during the state classification committee (SCC) hearing that is held every six months. Prisoners aren’t supposed to be sent to the program unless they agree to the terms and conditions. Those that decline to participate are supposed to have an alternative route, like medium custody.
But in any event, refusing the program isn’t supposed to affect our eligibility to be released from ad-seg, as the program is supposedly “voluntary”. After arriving at the Ramsey Unit, I was told that we all “agreed to be here” and could’ve exercised other options.
I also learned that the administration are ignoring their own policy and are randomly enrolling close custody prisoners, regardless of their line class, ineligibility, or willingness to participate – all to fill up space and keep the program running and the checks coming in. “If you don’t wanna be here, just say the word and I’ll put your ass on the bus” said Mr McGowen, an obese bigot who’s obviously eating well from his highly paid, non-laborious position as program manager or held negro in charge (HNIC). “I get paid regardless”, he said while wolfing down snacks in front of the commissary window.
This get put on the bus routine only sends the prisoner back to close custody or seg, only to start their stint over, be reconsidered to attend and sent back, over and over until they graduate or go home.
Despite this “volunteer” notion, before they are put on the bus they receive disciplinary cases for refusing to attend classes or something. Similarly, with this being done, our placement back into the same conditions is justified.
The policy says we can go back to population after being kicked out of the program, but their statistics show that we are being sent back to close custody or ad-seg – a revolving door scam.
Additionally, we attend two separate classes held by two different teachers, one class is Monday–Friday and the other is twice a week. In regards to the latter, on days the teacher feels a need to hang out with her co-workers like McGowen or sleep, she’ll simply cancel the classes for the day and have us forge our names on the roster saying that we attended the days in question. This is sometimes arranged ahead of time and told to us before it takes place, as to get our agreement to conspire in their money scheme.
This ultimately results in prisoners being forced to stay on the cell block all day while “control freak” guards like O’Moregie spend the entire shift provoking them into confrontations then write them disciplinary cases, resulting in them being kicked out of the program. All the while, those who run the program and are key to our transition, kick back in the education building while inmate bellboys cater to their every want and need.
In retrospect, the five-day-a-week class can only be completed after we do a minimum of 150 classroom hours, which doesn’t include non-school time like unit lockdowns, holidays etc, which prolongs our completion. So essentially this class has its perks for staff too.
Normally these classes are held three hours per group, but due to prison count defaults, we are routinely forced to stay close to an hour over, in which case we get no credit for having to stay late, but the teachers get paid as if class is still being held.
From Sensory Deprivation to Sensory Overload
Outside of the money scheme, an abstracted element exists – zero tolerance attitudes from staff who desire to remove us (mainly Blacks and Hispanics) from the program under the slightest pretext.
After an openly racist ranking official (Sgt Gerrold W Sharp) replaced Sgt Hughes as the program sergeant, “zero tolerance” mode was put into effect.
I observed prisoners chatting among themselves about how racist Sharp is but thought it was exaggeration. That’s until, on December 11 2017, I witnessed him use the words “nigger” and “black ass”, following a confrontation with a Black prisoner who he denied the right to eat in the chow hall. “You’re not getting shit. What you gonna do about it?” he screamed at the prisoner who was on the other side of the locked cell block door.
What I noticed about Sharp is that he doesn’t show his true colors unless he’s around white co-workers or the prisoner is locked behind a door and is provoked by him to hurl impulsive threats, in which case the prisoner has a lesser chance to be in a position to challenge Sharp’s returned threats. In response, a case can be written and the prisoner can be kicked out of the program.
“Please don’t shut up, so I can write you up”, Sharp taunted another prisoner in the education building, following an office asking him to be quiet. During that time, Sharp was surrounded by guards.
A White prisoner told me that Sharp explained that he’d assist the Whites in any way he can to make sure they completed the program, while going out of his way to coax Black and Hispanic prisoners into getting kicked out. A second White prisoner told me that he was approached by Sharp and told “I got y’all’s back”, but after finding out that the White prisoner embraced Black culture, he started harassing him and threatening to kick him out for minor everyday things. (This prisoner was eventually removed from the program for one reason or another.)
As I was collecting evidence from prisoners about Sharp’s behavior towards them, one-by-one they were kicked out of the program for a variety of minor things that were factually baseless. A Black prisoner, D Bell Jr #1781174, who’d recently been removed from the program by one of Sharp’s running dogs, sent me this message while waiting to be sent back to the dungeon, in hopes that I’d bring awareness to it:
“Being falsely accused is abuse throughout prisons across America. These problems are often veiled by being conveniently grouped together under a category of “criminal” or “offender” and by the automatic attribution of criminal behavior to people of that status. This causes some officials to abuse their authority and keep this corrupt behavior breathing. I am innocent and I only wish to complete this god-given program.”
Given that 80% of prison staff are of African descent, it is strange that Sharp was able to survive the short time he did (due to valid complaints, he is no longer controlling our cell block).
But this still hasn’t solved the problem of prisoners being kicked out of the program on frivolous grounds. Lieutenant Joe M Lopez has picked up where Sharp left off; his motive isn’t driven by greed or racism, but pure hate for ASTP prisoners, and his love for absolute authority over them.
During my seven-year stay in solitary, I’d grown accustomed to expecting and predicting the outcome of certain situations that I was powerless over, and other situations where I had some control, e.g.: using the restroom when I want; sleeping when I want; saving my meals to eat when I want, etc.
This long state of extreme sensory deprivation forced me into adjusting to being restricted from things like social and physical contact with staff; the ability to leave the cell without leg and hand restraints; the ability to physically confront staff without them being safely guarded by a cell door, etc.
But the contradictions of this program have exposed us to being bombarded by racist, aggressive, taunting, mentally abusive and verbally threatening guards; guards running up to our faces; screaming, swearing and pointing their fingers at us; challenging us to fight but writing us up when we accept the challenge – that is to say, deliberate sensory overload.
What I’m about to describe exposes this program as being bogus instead of rehabilitative. In the month of November 2017, me and three other prisoners were scheduled to see medical staff and psychiatrist Brandon Heiple.
Immediately after we arrived to the sign-in desk, escorted by Officer Derrick D Day, an officer who told me that “everyone” is out to get him fired, Officer Misty C Sam jumped up from the desk and maniacally screamed “you niggas back the fuck up!” After we tried to explain our reason for being there, she began swearing and hurling insults. This was enough to make us step behind the door connecting the walk-way and the infirmary entrance. Day closed the door.
We fired back insults of our own, but she obviously wasn’t in any mood to have a verbal battle and got straight to the point. “What’s up, what you gonna do?” she said to prisoner Leonard M Brazier Jr, #784079, who told her it didn’t matter.
As Officer Day opened the barred door, inviting one of us to challenge her, she stood with balled-up fists,and as nurses watched, screaming “what’s up nigga, you ready?” Nobody moved, so Day closed the door and the nurses carried on. “Y’all niggas ain’t ready” she said to herself as she sat back down, smiling.
I confronted Officer Day about why he didn’t control the situation, but he claimed that prisoners and his co-workers are out to get him fired, so he didn’t want to get involved. But in contradiction to his statement, he opened the door so as to assist with Officer Sam’s attempts to provoke us into hitting her, and didn’t close it back until it was confirmed that we wouldn’t bite. A great example of one way to get fired.
Program employees like Mr McGowen, Ms Dogan, Ms King, the Smith sisters and ranking staff who oversee the cell block are supposed to respond to and assist us in situations where our position in the program is in jeopardy, but they don’t.
The only time we are given advice is after we’ve lashed out at guards, in which case the advice is usless since being kicked out is inevitable. And other times, we are told to keep sucking it up regardless of how unconstitutional and flagrantly abusive their acts are. “What’s more important?” they often ask, with no thoughts of fixing the dilemma.
On November 27, 2017, I was challenged to act out yet again. As I was standing in line, getting food put on my tray, I was approached by the food service manager, Etta T Armstead, who first told me to get out of the line for no reason at all.
After I exposed her baseless reason, she grabbed the tray and tried to jerk it out of my hand, spilling food on my shirt. “Give me the tray”, she said. After I asked for an explanation, she claimed that I’d already eaten, which was proven to be a lie. She then claimed that she saw me steal two slices of cheese from behind the service line. Officer De Souza explained that he’d given them to me since I have a medical pass authorising me to have extra nutrition.
“I run the kitchen, I don’t care what kinda restriction you got” she said, ignoring this justification. After I wouldn’t give up the tray, she called Sharp and Lopez, and they all huddled up. I went to sit down.
Sharp approached and demanded that I hand him the cheese. I slid the tray to him so he could get it himself, but he stated “boy you gonna hand me the cheese or you going back to seg”, showing me the handcuffs.
I refused to hand it to him but put the tray where he could grab it, which still wasn’t good enough. “Hand him the cheese or I’ll say you stole it” Armstead said, I refused. I was handcuffed, take nto medical for a pre-seg evaluation, then thrown in solitary confinement.
To justify the theft cast they had pre-wrote so I would get kicked out of the program, character witnesses including medical staff, Armstead and DeSouza were interviewed.
Knowing that the initial statement that staff make is usually adopted by others, they got Armstead’s theft claim and tried to see if DeSouza would agree with it. He and medical staff both admitted that the cheese was given to me and that it can be used to replace items I’m allergic to.
This forced Lopez to release me from solitary and throw the case away, but not before admitting that Armstead may seek revenge on me or write me up on another day.
This is not a unique situation, prisoners are being provoked and set-up every day. Due to the average prisoner being unaware of their own constitutional rights and how to challenge bogus disciplinary cases, this program has turned into one that doesn’t seek to help us make the transition to population; but one that is used to provoke us into going back to the dungeon, and which gives the administration data that can be used to keep us there and label us as lost causes.
We need the public and journalists to scrutinize the ASTP program and help crack down on the state’s abuse of it as one that’s torturing us by sending us from sensory deprivation to sensory overload and back.
Dare to struggle, dare to win. All power to the people.
Jason Renard Walker #1532092
By Keith Malik Washington
**This essay has been edited for length; the full version of this article can be found at www.sfbayview.com**
On the morning of Nov. 19, 2017, a very intelligent and handsome young white man named Benjamin Larue was found hanging in his cell on G-Line at the Eastham Ad-Seg Unit located in Lovelady, Texas.
Ben had been my next door neighbor for a little over two months. I introduced him to my human rights work and he shared some of his personal history, which included details about what landed him in this horrible place.
I actually cried hard on Nov. 22, 2017. I mourned Ben’s untimely death. I am sending out a call to action to activists everywhere to shed a strobe light on Eastham Ad-Seg Unit. I’d like to ask the media and the general public to help me find Ben’s family so they can know the TRUTH surrounding Ben’s death.
On Nov. 19, 2017, prison guard Asongkeng Ngu began his count of prisoners housed on the G-Line Ad-Seg Housing Unit at Eastham. Shortly thereafter, prison guard Eugene Loving performed his cross-count on G-Line. Loving immediately stopped at Ben Larue’s cell, noticing and sensing that something wasn’t quite right with the way Ben was sitting on his floor.
CO Loving called to Ben but he was unresponsive. CO Loving did not waste any time. He called on his radio for emergency first responders, and I can tell you that the officers and medical personnel responded quickly – but it was too late. TDCJ prison guard Lonnie P. Kessinger III helped pull Ben’s lifeless body from cell C-l-14 at approximately 12:23 a.m.
CO Kessinger is a 15-year veteran of TDCJ. I have had conversations with him in the past and I know him to be extremely professional. He respects us as human beings, which is kind of rare in this environment.
CO Kessinger began to explain to CO Ngu how serious the situation really was. Ben’s body had been found hanging from a sheet, which he had tied around his neck and secured to a hole in the top bunk. Apparently, Ben had already been pronounced dead.
At 2:48 a.m. on Nov. 19, Assistant Warden Bruce Johnson, Major James Kent as well as an investigator from TDC-OIG State Police arrived in order to conduct the preliminary investigation into the cause of Ben’s death.
These high ranking officers knew I was up watching and listening to everything but no one ever asked me what I saw or heard. On Nov. 21, Capt. Christopher Farrel, the Ad-Seg supervisor, asked his officers at the morning shift meeting, “Is Washington still on G-Line?”
When they responded in the affirmative, he said, “We need to move him because we have some people coming to observe that cell where the offender hung himself and we don’t need Washington trying to talk to these visitors.” When people conspire to obscure facts or cover up the truth, that leads me to think that they have something to hide. What do you think?
The Texas Department of Criminal Justice has sought to place the entire blame on TDCJ Correctional Officer Asongkeng Ngu. However, there has been much more going on here than meets the eye.
Why did this happen?
I am not a trained mental health professional, but I was trained to be a Pharmacy Specialist (01-0) and a combat medic in the U.S. Army. I have a ton of experience working in the medical field and I can say with confidence that prior to his death Ben had exhibited numerous behaviors which suggested that he was suffering from acute depression.
When Ben was first in-processed at the Holliday Unit in Huntsville, Texas he was very depressed. Ben’s girlfriend had left him; he felt abandoned and betrayed and chose to attempt “suicide by cop” by trying to climb one of the security fences at Holliday Unit.
Ben was taken to the Sky View Mental Health facility. When Ben arrived here on Eastham Ad-Seg Unit a few months ago, he told Capt. Daron Lane that he would most likely try to kill himself again but the next time he would succeed.
Capt. Daron Lane was promoted to major a couple of months ago and was transferred to another prison unit. Did Major Daron Lane communicate the risk? Did he warn anyone? New Ad-Seg Capt. Francisco Villegas was just recently demoted and transferred for brutally beating up an Ad-Seg prisoner. Capt. Farrel took his place. Eastham has a history of abuse!
In relation to Ben’s death, the operative words here are neglect and deliberate indifference. In the two months that I was right next to Ben, the mental health staff here on Eastham never engaged Ben in a meaningful way. They virtually ignored him and did the bare minimum!
In relation to Ben’s death, the operative words here are neglect and deliberate indifference. In the two months that I was right next to Ben, the mental health staff here on Eastham never engaged Ben in a meaningful way.
Mental Health Case Manager Kathleen Caldwell and Mental Health Manager Kimberly Klock are responsible for providing quality psychiatric services and support for prisoners who have been placed on THE PSYCH CASE LOAD. Ben was on their case load. They failed Ben and they failed Ben’s family. Officer Ngu is not the only culpable party here.
Let me describe to you what Eastham mental health staff did to “treat” Ben. Approximately three weeks prior to Ben’s suicide, Mental Health Manager Kimberly Klock came to Ben’s cell and asked, “Would you like to attend the mental health ad-seg program on Michaels Unit?” Ben said “No.” I think he signed a refusal and Ms. Klock walked away. That was it!
Inhumane conditions fuelled Ben’s desperation & depression
Prior to Ben’s suicide, the Eastham Ad-Seg administration had refused to turn on the heat, so it had been very cold in the building on a number of occasions. Two days after Ben’s death, Eastham Unit prison officials turned on the heat!
The month of November 2017 here at Eastham Ad-Seg Unit was one of the worst I’ve ever had in 10 years of incarceration in Texas. From Oct. 30 to Nov. 20 we were in a LOCKDOWN MODE. Eastham uses these “lockdowns” numerous times throughout the year for Ad-Seg prisoners.
They use these lockdowns as an opportunity to starve us by “bird feeding” us with these paltry brown bag meals which consist of raisins, a meat sandwich and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
Lockdown was exceptionally oppressive in November because the water was shut completely off between Nov. 1 and Nov. 4. The smell of fecal matter and urine was pervasive throughout the building and we had no way to flush our toilets!
Ben said he had never experienced anything like this in his life. You see this was turning into a traumatic experience of epic proportions for Ben.
Every day during the lockdown I shared my food with Ben by giving him two sandwiches a day (I hate to see anyone go hungry and I had commissary in my locker). During the lockdown, Ben had been receiving visits from his mom, but when I asked him had he told her about the living conditions, he said he didn’t want to worry her.
My close friend and mentor Professor Victor Wallis Ph.D. wrote an article entitled, “‘13th’ and the culture of surplus punishment.” In this article, Professor Wallis illuminates the mentality that allows these tragedies to repeat themselves in the TDCJ Ad-Seg Units:
“The point here is that the very mindset that gives police the license to kill gratuitously – i.e., even when they are clearly in no danger – also tells prison officials that they are entitled to inflict both physical and psychological torture on the people in their custody.”
A pattern of practice
On the morning of Nov. 22 at approximately 9 a.m., TDCJ Region I Director Tony O’Hare along with various investigators arrived on G-Line at the Eastham Ad-Seg Unit. I knew O’Hare well from a horrible affidavit he created in order to thwart my attempts to practice my religious faith.
In January 2015 a prisoner rights advocacy organization based in Austin, Texas, released a report entitled, “Cruel and Usual Punishment: Excessive Use of Force at the Estelle Unit.” The Prison Justice League is the name of the organization. The report states:
“In 2014, the Prison Justice League conducted research which revealed countless instances of Estelle officers using excessive force on prisoners, with injuries including missing teeth, fractured skulls, broken bones, ruptured eyeballs, and prolonged hospitalizations. It is a PATTERN apparently well known to prison officials but ignored.”
The major over security at Estelle Unit during the most abusive time period was Mr. Gregory Vaughn. Vaughn feigned ignorance in respect to the physical abuse perpetrated by his officers at Estelle Unit where most of the victims were predominantly elderly and disabled prisoners!
Gregory Vaughn is now the chief supervisor and assistant warden in charge of the operations at the Eastham Ad-Seg Unit. But even more interesting is the fact that Region I Director Tony O’Hare was the senior warden at Estelle Unit during Vaughn’s time there.
There is a systemic problem of cronyism which has created an environment that lacks transparency or accountability. TDCJ rewards ranking officers who abuse prisoners and keep their mouths shut. It is time to dismantle these corrupt and unjust criminal practices. TDCJ has been allowed to spiral out of control, and the taxpayers continue to have to pay for these multi-million dollar wrongful death lawsuits!
New name, same torture
TCDJ claims that the agency has abolished the use of solitary confinement. However, solitary confinement has just been given a new name and re-branded as ad-seg. TDCJ’s intent is to place a more acceptable and public friendly label on the torture chambers the state of Texas uses to house their so-called threats to security. Ben wasn’t a threat to anyone except himself and for some reason none of these high paid prison administrators noticed the warning signs.
TDCJ Executive Director Bryan Collier has claimed that the agency has abolished the use of solitary confinement. However, solitary confinement has just been given a new name and re-branded as ad-seg. TDCJ’s intent is to place a more acceptable and public friendly label on the torture chambers the state of Texas uses to house their so-called threats to security.
Sometimes it takes a senseless tragedy such as this in order to raise the public’s awareness and to force the hand of the legislators in Austin who continue to ignore all the “red flags” and who believe every word coming out of the mouth of these violators of the public’s trust.
Ben was a young man, 27 years old, with only a three-year sentence! Three years – just think about that for a minute. Ben could have picked up the pieces of his broken life and really gotten himself together.
TDCJ prison officials have thrown Officer Asongkeng Ngu under the bus. They have found their scapegoat and sacrificial lamb. To them, it is all about skirting liability for the death of this young man named Benjamin Larue.
I saw the tears in Officer Ngu’s eyes after Ben’s death was confirmed. CO Ngu cared about Ben and that is more than I can say about the mental health professionals and high ranking prison administrators who don’t want their reputations soiled by Ben’s tragic death.
Please contact the Texas Gov. Gregg Abbott and help me find Ben’s family. Dare to struggle! Dare to win!
Join us for a lively fundraiser supporting J20 defendants on the anniversary of the Inauguration Day protests in DC that led to the mass arrest of protestors.
Alexei Wood, a journalist from San Antonio will speak to his experience live-streaming his arrest and subsequent tribulations posed by the prosecution.
There will be music on both stages! With visuals provided by Hyperreal film club & Abi Laurel, bands will start the night playing on the outdoor stage and then we’ll move indoors for DJ performances and dance party to end the night.
Suggested donations will be $5 entry, sliding scale – no one will be turned down for lack of funds.
Hyperreal Film Club
Austin Anarchist Black Cross (ABC)
DJ Dada of Chulita Vinyl Club
-bands & additional performances TBA
We will be tabling J20, prisoner support, and anti-repression literature. We’re happy to talk with folks who are new to these ideas & movements!
Almost 200 people are facing multiple felony charges after being mass arrested during the Inauguration Day protests on January 20, 2017 (J20) in Washington, DC. After an initial “felony rioting” indictment (which is already unusual), prosecutors pushed for a series of revisions—pulling in more defendants and bringing each person’s total charges to a staggering 8+ felonies and up to 75 years in prison. The majority of cases are now headed to trial, with the first trials beginning November 15 and continuing through the end of next year.
Under dubious and flimsy legal standards, prosecutors under the Trump presidency are attempting to turn protesters into felons and working to set dangerous legal precedents for all those who work for change.
These cases have disrupted the lives of the J20 defendants, who have lost jobs, incurred legal expenses, and been forced to make repeated trips to DC.
Despite these circumstances, there has been an astonishing display of solidarity—with almost 200 people committed to fighting these charges. These defendants are investing in collective legal strategies when possible, using solidarity and mutual support to keep each other safe, and are choosing to go to trial and fight the charges instead of accepting plea deals.
We have the collective power to do everything we can to stop the Trump administration from destroying the lives of these defendants, people who could just as easily be you or me or your friends or family. And who will be next? Already there is a bipartisan effort to have the Department of Justice classify activists who manually shut down tar sands pipelines as “domestic terrorists.”
What we allow the Trump administration to get away with in these trials will affect all who fight for a better world. These prosecutions are historic. But, this is also our opportunity to make this a historic defeat for them. Your financial support is needed and endlessly appreciated—will you join this effort?
Funds will be used for legal defense and to support defendants during trial, funding housing, travel expenses, food, and other support needs as consensed upon by DCLP. For more information about the legal defense effort and transparent accounting of how the money is being used, please visit defendJ20resistance.org.
A really short article was published by an Iowa Park, TX news source this past Sunday (December 31st, 2017) regarding the Allred Unit, located in the town. Some incarcerated folks being held in that unit went on hunger strike to protest conditions in the prison.
The New York Post reported yesterday (January 3rd, 2018) that about 40 people are on hunger strike and have been for about 8 days. The New York Post further reported that the main grievances listed by the individuals on hunger strike are recreational time, food portions, and extreme temperatures.
Austin ABC is sharing this story in solidarity with those on strike.