Solidarity with the Incarcerated Workers of the Free Alabama Movement!

20 Apr

Freeing Alabama: Incarcerated Workers of the World Unite!

 


 GO LIKE AND SUPPORT:
 IWW Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee



From the INDUSTRIAL WORKERS OF THE WORLD:

Solidarity with the Incarcerated Workers of the Free Alabama Movement!

We in the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) have been approached by a group of hundreds of people currently incarcerated in Alabama who are launching a nonviolent prison strike beginning this Sunday April 20th to demand an end to slave labor, the massive overcrowding and horrifying health and human rights violations found in Alabama Prisons, and the passage of legislation they have drafted.

This is the second peaceful and nonviolent protest initiated by the brave men and women of the Free Alabama Movement (F.A.M.) this year building on the recent Hunger Strikes in Pelican Bay and the Georgia Prison Strike in 2010. They aim to build a mass movement inside and outside of prisons to earn their freedom, and end the racist, capitalist system of mass incarceration called The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander and others. The Free Alabama Movement is waging a non-violent and peaceful protest for their civil, economic, and human rights.

The conditions in Alabama prisons are horrendous, packing twice as many people as the 16,000 that can be housed “humanely”, with everything from black mold, brown water, cancer causing foods, insect infestations, and general disrepair. They are also run by free, slave labor, with 10,000 incarcerated people working to maintain the prisons daily, adding up to $600,000 dollars a day, or $219,000,000 a year of slave labor if inmates were paid federal minimum wage, with tens of thousands more receiving pennies a day making products for the state or private corporations.

In response, the Free Alabama Movement is pushing a comprehensive “Freedom Bill” (Alabama’s Education, Rehabilitation, and Re-entry Preparedness Bill) designed to end these horrors and create a much reduced correctional system actually intended to achieve rehabilitation and a secure, just, anti-racist society.
While unique in some ways, the struggle of these brave human beings is the same as the millions of black, brown, and working class men, women, and youth struggling to survive a system they are not meant to succeed within. We advance their struggle by building our own, and working together for an end to this “system that crushes people and penalizes them for not being able to stand the weight”.

The Free Alabama Movement is partnering with the IWW’s Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee to ask you toCreate a Incarcerated Workers Solidarity Committee in your area to raise money, take action, and spread the word of this struggle, including to local prisons.


Contact us at iwoc@riseup.net. Solidarity and be in touch!

The IWW Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee in partnership with the Free Alabama Movement


The IWW is an grassroots, revolutionary union open to all working people, including the incarcerated and the unemployed. Founded in 1905, we’ve come back strong in recent years with struggles at Starbucks, Jimmy Johns, and the General Strike call during the Wisconsin Uprising. We are committed to amplifying the voices of prisoners, ending an economic system based on exploitation and racial caste systems like mass incarceration, and adding our contribution to the global movements for a just, free, and sustainable world. Our guiding motto is “An injury to one is an injury to all!”.


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Activist Prepares for Hunger Strike to Combat Police Brutality, Misconduct and Shootings in California

18 Apr

Please lend your support and share this article!!

By Gregg L Greer, Editor for One World

On May 13, 2014 A California Professor James Cosner will go on a hunger strike “to his death,” according to Cosner and Organizers (CAMPAIGN 4 JUSTICE) as a method of civil disobedience against the State of California in a battle for cause. Cosner’s desire is to bring national attention to the growing stream of violent deaths of many mostly young men (citizens)-the reason given-is the incredibly tragic way many have died (resulting at hands of Police) or better know as “Police Brutality.

Jame.3 (PS)

Although he (Cosner) has not fallen victim to directly to Police Brutality, Cosner though his long-term Social Activismhas dedicated his life to the rescinding of unethical social and economic aspects of the Criminal Justice policies in California and abroad. Additionally, Cosner has had dealings with law enforcement, which is not unusual and usually “Power for the Course,” as most advocates consider civil disobedience to be a very successful method of fighting Injustice.

 

March-against-police-brutality-in-Anaheim
March-against-police-brutality-in-Anaheim

In California,  use of deadly force by police shootings continue to disturb communities. The “Hardest,” demographic base hit are low-income communities and communities of color. Many citizens recognize that no force is exceedingly more explosive and leads to tragedy, more than Police Brutality caused deadly force. Activist believe the multiple cases that most go under  Federal Justice Department scrutiny and investigation concerns are records of police wrongdoing addressed over the last several years, also any inquiries to the United States Attorneys and in addition to The Federal Bureau of Investigation. Activist believe the investigations, must include any/all Police Brutality cases handled solely by local police departments.

 

David Silva-murdered-by-police in Bakersfield, CA

Cosner’s objection, while timely, is not without merit- to date there are a growing list of examples – one in particular, in Bakersfield California, a 911 caller claimed a, “guy” had been viciously battered to death on one road by eight police officers. The man, who died that evening, was father of four, David Sal Silva, 33. Two eyewitnesses claimed to have recorded videos of the beating on their cell phones, but local police seized the phones.

_

_

Other Major California Cases

 

Kenneth Harding Jr. was gunned down in the Bay Area streets by San Francisco Police for allegedly failing to pay a $2.00 transit fare. More info https://www.facebook.com/groups/433149643404154/
Kenneth Harding Jr. was gunned down in the Bay Area streets by San Francisco Police for allegedly failing to pay a $2.00 transit fare

It has been two years since Kenneth Harding Jr. was gunned down in the Bay Area streets by San Francisco Police for allegedly failing to pay a $2.00 transit fare. Police later claimed that Kenneth Harding Jr., 19, allegedly shot himself to death during an exchange of gunfire with police as he ran away from two officers who attempted to arrest him for alleged fare avoidance.

Oscar Grat Foundation, includes other families of victims murdered by "Police Brutality."  http://www.oscargrantfoundation.com/
Oscar Grant Foundation, includes other families of victims murdered by “Police Brutality.”
http://www.oscargrantfoundation.com/

 

With the particular example of Oscar Grant, Officer Johannes Mehserle claimed he mixed his service revolver for his taser. However, for what reason? Would the officer taser Grant in the first place? Grant continued to be restrained, also as he was circled by police officers and lying face-down in cuffs on the Oakland rapid transit platform. Many who know of the incident still question, under which? assumption did Mehserle think of the necessity to use any force at all? Officer Mehserle was eventually convicted in criminal court of involuntary manslaughter but completed less than two years in prison.

Rarely do methods of civil defiance draw the same level of public awareness as a hunger strike. This method has been used around world over to galvanize public support, unite a movement, and draw awareness to issues that under other conditions might go overlooked. What is completely reliant is how long the striker can continue to go without his or her most essential instincts, hunger strikes do not require posters or conference halls or television cameras. It is a method of dissent available to practically anyone, anywhere in the world.

***

Here is a brief history of more well known-Hunger Strikes. While Cosner has not made himself a comparison to anyone else- Cosner’s Actions are inline in comparison and also the thoughts and views of many great leaders, examples include;

mahatma gandhi biography

1. Mohandas Gandhi
An influence for many non-violent peace demonstrations, Gandhi conducted a twenty-one day fast against British control in February 1943. A Separate fast in 1948 concluded after five days, with Muslims, Sikhs, and Hindus declaring they would work toward Gandhi’s concept of comprehensive national solidarity.

cEASER cHavez

2. Cesar Chavez
The Latino-American labor movement leader used hunger strikes on various occasions while agitating for farm workers. In 1968, Chavez began a 25-day fast to obtain recognition for the union he helped co-found, the United Farm Workers.

 

 bobby_sands_33. Bobby Sands
An Irish nationalist died 66 days into a hunger strike in 1981, and likewise Nine hunger strikers died after Sands after necessitating that many Irish Republican Army members were made political prisoners by the British during the unrest. The 27-year-old Sands dropped 60 pounds before he died.

****

Statement from James Cosner

On May 13th, whether I am one or many, I will not eat as a form of spiritual and political protest until either I return to my ancestors or until the government meets the following demands:

First: Free Leonard Peltier, Move 9/8, Mumia Abu Jamal, Ramsey Muniz, and Rocky Boice immediately!

2nd: Fire immediately and level 1st degree murder charges against the following officers:

Gregory Sur and company for killing Mark Garcia, retry Johannes Mehserly for killing Oscar Grant, John Moody for killing Ernest Duenez, Miguel Masso for killing Allen Blueford, Steve Gilley for killing Michael Nida, Manuel Ramos for killing Kelly Thomas, Richard Hastings, Mikeal Ali, and Mathew Lopez for killing Kenneth Harding, Dan Hurtado, Ray Drabek, and Mike Brannigan for killing Martin Angel Hernandez, John Nesbitt, Gregory Dunn, and Erick Azarvand for killing James Rivera, Dominique Perez and Keith Sandy for killing James Boyed, and ?? for killing Everado Toress.

****

no-justice

As landscape gets denser, more complex, the public outcry from inside California is growing louder, there will be more groups willing to come forward and engage the public, and the ability to undertake collective action. In the political arena, as the protests and demonstrations are increased Cosner and his group of “Freedom Fighters,” can only hope that their coordinated public effort with bring much-needed change.

I am committed to a particular course of action because I believe it to be true, my truth, and if I am wrong then I will take responsibility for being wrong. But, I do not believe that I am wrong.
We do wish for all the Creator’s children to mature, to grow up, to take responsibility, to find integrity, to secure intelligence, and achieve lasting wisdom.

James Cosner, Peace!

For More Information on James Cosner and the CAMPAIGN 4 JUSTICE visit:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1463153727251897/admins/?order=default

Related  Articles

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/22/david-silva-cell-phone-video-bakersfield-police-beating_n_3314957.html

http://presstv.com/detail/2013/01/22/284918/activists-in-california-protest-police-brutality/

One World

Gregg L. Greer a Public Speaker, Pastor, Writer and Social Activist. Gregg  L. Greer as the Editor of One World, and One World Today internet journals. you can reach him at one1worldtoday@gmail.com.

 

Judge: Using Pepper Spray on Mentally Ill Inmates ‘Horrific’

13 Apr

  • By Don Thompson, Associated Press

A still image from a video showing California prison guards dousing mentally ill inmates repeatedly with pepper spray.

A federal judge ruled Thursday that California’s treatment of mentally ill inmates violates constitutional safeguards against cruel and unusual punishment through excessive use of pepper spray and isolation.

U.S. District Court Judge Lawrence Karlton in Sacramento gave the corrections department time to issue updated policies on the use of both methods but did not ban them.

He offered a range of options on how officials could limit the use of pepper spray and isolation units when dealing with more than 33,000 mentally ill inmates, who account for 28 percent of the 120,000 inmates in California’s major prisons.

The ruling came after the public release of videotapes made by prison guards showing them throwing chemical grenades and pumping large amounts of pepper spray into the cells of mentally ill inmates, some of whom are heard screaming.

“Most of the videos were horrific,” Karlton wrote in his 74-page order.

Corrections department spokeswoman Deborah Hoffman said prison officials are reviewing the order.

Prison officials had already promised to make some changes in how much pepper spray they use and how long mentally ill inmates can be kept in isolation, but attorneys representing inmates said those changes did not go far enough.

Karlton gave the state 60 days to work with his court-appointed special master to further revise its policy for using force against mentally ill inmates.

The inmates’ attorneys and witnesses also told Karlton during recent hearings that the prolonged solitary confinement of mentally ill inmates frequently aggravates their condition, leading to a downward spiral.

Karlton agreed, ruling that placement of seriously mentally ill inmates in segregated housing causes serious psychological harm, including exacerbation of mental illness, inducement of psychosis and increased risk of suicide.

“He made findings in every area of ongoing constitutional violations,” said Michael Bien, an attorney who represents mentally ill inmates in the long-running class-action lawsuit. “Despite all these years of legal efforts, he found that there needs to be more done.”

Karlton ordered the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to develop a plan to keep mentally ill inmates out of segregation units when there is a substantial risk that it will worsen their illness or prompt suicide attempts.

He found that keeping mentally ill inmates in isolation when they have not done anything wrong violates their rights against cruel and unusual punishment. He gave the state 60 days to stop the practice of holding mentally ill inmates in the segregation units simply because there is no room for them in more appropriate housing.

Keeping Mentally Ill Prisoners In Isolation Causes Harm

Even before the latest rulings, the hearings before Karlton spurred the department to limit the time that mentally ill inmates spend in isolation units if they have not broken prison rules.

Karlton also ruled that mentally ill inmates cannot be placed in special security housing units unless corrections officials can demonstrate that the isolation will not further harm their mental state.

The state’s practice of housing inmates in the units for years, even decades, prompted a series of widespread inmate hunger strikes and led to two bills being considered in the Legislature this year that would restrict their use.

Finally, Karlton ordered the state to revise its policy for strip-searching mentally ill inmates as they enter and leave housing units.

Bien said he hopes that Karlton’s decision to let the department work out the details of reforms with the court’s special master will encourage the state to make improvements without appealing the order.

Karlton praised Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration for making progress, but said the continuing rights violations are proof that he acted properly a year ago when he rejected Brown’s attempt to end court oversight of prison mental health programs.

The 24-year-old lawsuit over the state’s treatment of its mentally ill inmates has prompted sweeping changes in the state prison system, though the latest ruling is limited to excessive use of force and the isolation of mentally ill inmates.

The mental health lawsuit, along with a separate lawsuit over poor medical care, prompted the state to spend billions of dollars for improvements while dramatically realigning its criminal justice system to keep less serious criminals in county jails instead of state prisons.

View court documents:

Judge: Using Pepper Spray on Mentally Ill Inmates ‘Horrific’

Source:  KQED News

Happy Birthday Merle Haggard

7 Apr

Via Ray Hill:

It’s the birthday of country songwriter and singer Merle Haggard, born in Bakersfield, California (1937). The first song he wrote was “Branded Man,” about the life of an ex-con. He was still on parole when he wrote it.

His parents were Dust Bowl migrants from Oklahoma, and Haggard grew up in a house made from a railroad boxcar. As a young man, he wrote bad checks, stole cars, hopped trains, and was in and out of reform schools and jails. Eventually, he spent 27 months in San Quentin prison, which was such a bad experience he decided he’d never go back. He became a model prisoner, and joined the prison’s country music band, and saw Johnny Cash perform there. Later, when he met Johnny Cash in person, Johnny said he didn’t remember Merle being in the show with him, and Merle had to tell him it was because he was in the prison audience.

Today, Haggard has released more than 600 songs, 40 of which were No. 1 hits.

Governor Ronald Reagan pardoned his time at San Quentin. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger inducted him into the California Hall of Fame. Vanity Fair interviewed him to ask if he had any advice for the troubled actress Lindsay Lohan on how to handle prison.

Haggard said: “She has to be honest, and she has to let the other prisoners know that she doesn’t feel like she’s any better than they are. If I told somebody I was going to meet them on a Tuesday, I met ‘em. I learned that it’s better to be honest, because you can’t get away from your lie.”

~ Writers Almanac

 

Not much has changed since 1969 when this song was written….we still make people pay- over and over for their transgressions.

I’d like to hold my head up and be proud of who I am
But they won’t let my secret go untold
I paid the debt I owed ‘em, but they’re still not satisfied
Now I’m a branded man out in the cold

When they let me out of prison, I held my head up high
Determined I would rise above the shame
But no matter where I’m living, the black mark follows me
I’m branded with a number on my name

If I live to be a hundred, I guess I’ll never clear my name
‘Cause everybody knows I’ve been in jail
No matter where I’m living, I’ve got to tell them where I’ve been
Or they’ll send me back to prison if I fail

Now I’m a branded man out in the cold

The Shining Fire Hydrant

7 Apr

–by Birdman, syndicated from insight-out.org

 

 

 

My night was like any other night. It was 8PM, time for “close custody count”(All prisons have ‘institutional counts’ wherein they count each prisoner’s body to ensure no one is missing or has escaped. Not being there for count is considered a serious violation). The officer came to our cell and called my bunkie’s name after which he gave him the last two digits of his CDCR number.

 

The same went for me. Half an hour passed and a neighbor comes to my cell and said they were paging me downstairs. I had not heard them calling for me. I went down to the podium and the cops said to me: “Why were you not in your cell for count!?” and I told them: “I was in my cell for count – as I have been every day and night for 12 years, and I have numerous neighbors that can verify that.” 

 

 

It did not matter what I said. The cops told me to not do it again, and I am like, “Whatever.” Two days go by and I find out that the sergeant gave me a write up (a violation).  I’m thinking, “Okay, I truly am not guilty of this and I have many witnesses who will say the same.” However, at the hearing the cop that counted said he looked in the cell two times and I was not there. It did not matter what I said or how many people I had who would say the same because I was found guilty and given forty hours of extra duty. I said to myself, “Screw this. I am not going to do the work. This is so unfair! I did nothing wrong and these guys are wrong about this.” I watched that count-cop count me and he did not look up from his count board once. His eyes never left that board. I filed a complaint against the officer. That is the last thing I wanted to do, but I was not wrong about this, they were!

 

 

I felt bitter about being ordered to do those forty hours of extra duty. In a phone call, I spoke to my mother about it and she wondered if I could perhaps just take it and, regardless of the circumstance and the injustice of it, see if I could do what would ultimately be best for me. She said she would accept what I would decide, but if I could, to act respectfully.

 

 

I reckoned if I refused to do the work, even though it came about unjustly, I would be guilty in their eyes. I chose to do the work anyway.  I have always prided myself with doing exceptional work and I was desperately looking to find my pride in this situation, somewhere, no matter what. So, not only did I do the work, I did the best possible job I could do.

 

 

I was asked to shine up this brass fire hydrant. Though I still felt resentful about those forty hours of extra duty, I set off to shine up this hydrant and I really got into the job. As a result, this hydrant started shining very brightly. As the sun caught it, I could see my face in it and I noticed I was smiling from ear to ear. I began to laugh out loud for no reason other than enjoying that moment and seeing the result of my work.

 

By putting all my conscious effort into shining up that fire hydrant, I had become bigger than the unfairness that led me to my assignment. I do not know how long I was at it but when I was done that hydrant it looked like the prettiest thing in the whole prison. Kinda like a small lighthouse standing proudly in an ocean of concrete, calling out on how to steer, on how to move through this place. 

 

 

I realized I was shining too and it hasn’t left me. Many people commented on that hydrant all week; wondering how come that thing gives off so much light all of a sudden. I just smiled.

 

 

~ Birdman 

 


Syndicated from the InsightOut newsletterInsight Out organizes initiatives that create the systemic change to transform violence and suffering into opportunities for learning and healing.

More than a “perch”…

5 Apr

Around 6:00 am today I was looking out my window again/still, and a dove landed on the sill. We exchanged looks and then continued on with our business. Soon after, the mate landed next to the first. I put it that way because I have no idea which was male or female. But the point is there are alot of birds around this prison besides doves-blackbirds, sparrows, seagulls, hawks, crows, and I even saw a pelican one day.
This a wetland area and I saw on the news that they have a sanctuary near here. In fact the birds have adapted to the presence of the prison: they know when it is meal times and where we exit the chow hall. When we come out the birds are everywhere, waiting for there “issue”-(issue is part of the prison lexicon, meaning what you are supposed to get-clothing, food, medical etc. “I just want my issue”).

It is against the rules to bring food out, but people manage and the birds are fat and sassy around here. They even know when the trash bags are brought out and scavenge them before the trash carts come through. It is like the prison is an intrusion in their habitat, but there is nothing they can do about it so they do the best they can.

That is what happens in the community and the country as a whole: A prison, or prisons are all over the landscape, and people block out it’s existence or adapt to it. That is what I did. But that changes when you come here or have a family member or friend come to prison. Then your whole perception of the Criminal Justice System changes. Then you can’t block it out anymore, when you or someone you know becomes one of the almost 3 million prisoners in this country.

What I don’t understand is this: With 3 million prisoners now, (and no telling how many who have been released) the math is not too hard. Every prisoner had 2 parents-that is 6 million people who have empathy or concern about the unprecedented number of prisoners in this country. If you factor in 1 child per prisoner, that is 7 million. Siblings? Aunts? Uncles? Friends?

Pretty soon we are up to 20 million or more people effected by this phenomenon, 25% of the worlds prisoners are in this country. Why haven’t, or maybe they have, the politicians gone after all these potential votes?
Aren’t all the facts, numbers and taxpayer money wasted, enough to convince them that the “Willie Horton” stigma is no longer a viable excuse ? That we can’t “build our way out of this problem” with more prisons?
Shared with permission by Gary Settle.

Mass Incarceration in the US

5 Apr

Published on Apr 4, 2014

Thanks to Visually (http://Visual.ly) for facilitating the creation of this video, to http://youtube.com/kurzgesagt for the animation, and to The Prison Policy Initiative for research help and fact checking. (http://www.prisonpolicy.org).

It wasn’t easy to pick this topic, but I believe that America’s 40-year policy of mass incarceration is deeply unethical, not very effective, and promotes the security of the few at the expense of the many.

It’s hard for me, as a person who was born into privilege, to imagine the challenges convicted criminals face, often for crimes that are utterly non-violent.

If you’re feeling like you want to do something about this, I’m mostly just making this video as an informational resource and to encourage people to think of felons not as bad, scary people but just as people.

The people at The Prison Policy Initiative were very helpful in the creation of this video and if you want to learn more about their work and how to get involved go to http://www.prisonpolicy.org

 

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