By Carl Dix for Stop Police Terror – We are just over a week away from #RiseUpOctober — three powerful days of action to STOP POLICE TERROR! This is so urgent and so important. Two new reports were just released trying to justify the police murder of 12 year old Tamir Rice! Also, this past weekend, tens of thousands of people went to DC as part of “Justice Or Else.” While the diversity and breadth of people joining together in Rise Up October certainly have different views on what went down in DC with “Justice or Else.” Momentum is building in many ways — last week we had a packed (more than 550 people, mainly students) event at Columbia University calling for #RiseUpOctober featuring Eve Ensler, Cornel West, Kimberle Crenshaw, Nicholas Heyward, Jamal Joseph and me.
By Alice and Staughton Lynd for Popular Resistance. Menard, IL – On September 23, 2015, at least 19 (and possibly as many as 22) men in Administrative Detention at the Menard Correctional Center began a hunger strike that ended on September 28. It was nearly a week after the hunger strike ended before we received any mail from them. The following is a composite account based on what they sent us, written on the first and last days of the hunger strike. Alice Lynd. Day 1, September 23, 2015 “On 9-23-15, after filing multiple grievances dealing with my diet tray, indeterminate seg hearings, yard conditions as well as living conditions, . . . and no response or action taken, I declared a peaceful hunger strike. . . . I declared my hunger strike only after trying multiple ways to bring relief to my issues which were and still are being completely ignored.”
By Marcus Harrison Green for Yes! Magazine – After a three-year crusade of protest, agitation, and organizing, a Seattle City Council meeting on September 21 brought a major victory to a diverse coalition of youth-prison abolitionists and anti-racist organizers. In a 9-0 unanimous decision, Seattle’s City Council passed a resolution that fully endorses the goal of zero-percent detention of youth, and called for the city to develop policies eliminating the necessity of their imprisonment. While Council Member Mike O’Brien introduced the resolution in a committee meeting last week, it originated with three organizations that advocate for the abolition of juvenile incarceration: Ending the Prison Industrial Complex (EPIC), Youth Undoing Institutional Racism (YUIR), and the Seattle branch of the anti-racist organization European Dissent. “We wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for the youth activists,” said Council Member Nick Licata prior to the resolution’s passage. “They’re the ones who created the huge pressure on the county and also the city.”
By Abby Martin for teleSur. United States – The Empire holds by far the most prisoners than any other country on earth, in both absolute numbers and per capita. Abby Martin explores the dark reality of America’s prisons: their conditions, who is warehoused in them, and the roots of mass incarceration. Featuring interviews with Eddie Conway, former political prisoner unjustly incarcerated for 44 years, and Eugene Puryear, author of “Shackled and Chained, Mass Incarceration in Capitalist America.”
By Jackie Miller of BANCO. Benton Harbor, MI – One answer comes to mind from my very first meeting with Pinkney in 2003. I drove from Lansing to Benton Harbor in southwest Michigan to witness a Berrien County Commissioners meeting soon after the Benton Harbor uprising. At that eye-opening introduction, white commissioners literally laughed at Black community members’ desperate appeals for justice for their young Black men, incarcerated or killed with impunity at a sickening rate. From this vignette straight out of the Jim Crow South, I left 90% white St. Joseph and crossed the bridge to Benton Harbor where well over 90% of the residents are Black and nearly half live in poverty according to census data.
By Jonathan Bix of Hudson Valley Black Lives Matter Coalition. Poughkeepsie, NY – On Thursday, the Hudson Valley Black Lives Matter Coalition and Samuel Harrell’s family and friends gathered in Hulme Park to call for justice for Mr. Harrell, a Black prisoner diagnosed with bipolar disorder who was killed by corrections officers at the Fishkill Correctional Facility. Fifty people gathered around enlarged photos of Mr. Harrell with his family, as his widow and sister spoke of their love for Samuel, their grief at his murder, and their commitment to fight until justice is won. The group marched down Market St., with several people wearing paper “bloody” hands and wearing signs with the names of the District Attorney (DA) and corrections officers known to have killed Samuel Harrell.
By Mike Ludwig in TruthOut. The prison industry in the United States has grown so large that there are no less than seven professional associations for people who work at prisons and jails. The industry conferences held by these associations provide a perfect venue for private corrections companies to influence government officials with little public oversight, according to a recent report by the watchdog group In The Public Interest (ITPI). The biggest names in the prison business spend millions of dollars sponsoring these conferences and wooing prison officials with free massages, awards ceremonies, luxury dinner cruises and plenty of corporate schwag. Over the past week, one of the most prominent associations, the American Correctional Association (ACA), held its summer conference in Indianapolis
By Noelle Hanrahan for Prison Radio – Mumia Abu-Jamal remains weak, ill, and in the prison infirmary. Five months after being admitted to the hospital with lethal blood sugar levels and in renal failure, he continues to have a debilitating skin rashes, open wounds and swelling across his lower extremities. Because of our relentless demands for medical testing and treatment, we finally know the likely cause of his severe ailments: Hepatitis C. But what is news to us is not news to his jailers. Prison officials have known that Mumia was Hep. C positive since 2012– and have done nothing. Even now that prison doctors know that Mumia’s Hep. C is active -from testing they performed solely because we demanded it-they are refusing to provide treatment. Today, we are going back to court to demand justice for our brother.
By Gavin FinchLiam Vaughan for Bloomberg – Former UBS Group AG and Citigroup Inc. trader Tom Hayes, the first person to stand trial for manipulating Libor, was sentenced to 14 years in prison after being found guilty of conspiracy to rig the benchmark rate. After a week of deliberations, jurors unanimously found that the 35-year-old worked with traders and brokers to game the London interbank offered rate to benefit his own trading positions. Judge Jeremy Cooke’s sentence after the verdict is among the longest for financial crime in the U.K. “Probity and honesty are essential, as is trust. The Libor activities of which you took part in put that in jeopardy,” Cooke said as he handed out the sentence in London Monday. “A message needs to be sent to the world of banking.” Prosecutors said during the nine-week trial that Hayes was the “ringmaster” of a global network of 25 traders and brokers from at least 10 firms who tried to manipulate Libor on an industrial scale. He would bribe, bully, cajole and reward his contacts for their help in skewing the benchmark, used to price more than $350 trillion of financial contracts from mortgages to credit cards and student loans.
By Renee Lewis in Al Jazeera. Hempstead, TX – More than 100 people staged a protest Friday outside the county jail in Hempstead, Texas, where a black woman was found dead one week ago after being arrested following an altercation with police. Officials have called the death a suicide. But protestors led by Quanell X — leader of the Houston New Black Panther Party — disputed that, shouting “No justice, no peace!” and “We demand answers!” Twenty-eight-year-old Sandra Bland was arrested during a July 10 traffic stop in the Texas town of Prairie Ville after allegedly kicking the officer who pulled her over. A witness said the policeman dragged Bland from her car and then roughly detained her. In a video showing the arrest, Bland can be heard saying the officer had slammed her head into the ground.
By Rev. Edward Pinkney. My name is Reverend Edward Pinkney. I am at Lakeland Correctional Facility, otherwise known as a prison, in Coldwater, Michigan. I am a victim of racial injustice and over-reaching corporate power in Berrien County, Michigan. I am an internationally recognized activist who acts and fights for justice for all, and I am the leader of the Black Autonomy Network Community Organization (BANCO). I was sentenced to 30 months to ten years. This is a death sentence for a 66-year-old man. I was accused of a crime I did not commit. Because I exercised my democratic right to petition to recall the Benton Harbor Mayor James Hightower, who supports the Whirlpool Corporation and not the residents of Benton Harbor, I was charged with five felony counts of changing dates on petitions!
By Chris Hedges for Truthdig. “We have to shut down the prisons,” Council, known as Kinetik, one of the founders of the Free Alabama Movement, told me by phone from the Holman Correctional Facility in Escambia County, Ala. He has been in prison for 21 years, serving a sentence of life without parole. “We will not work for free anymore. All the work in prisons, from cleaning to cutting grass to working in the kitchen, is done by inmate labor. [Almost no prisoner] in Alabama is paid. Without us the prisons, which are slave empires, cannot function. Prisons, at the same time, charge us a variety of fees, such as for our identification cards or wrist bracelets, and [impose] numerous fines, especially for possession of contraband. They charge us high phone and commissary prices. Prisons each year are taking larger and larger sums of money from the inmates and their families. The state gets from us millions of dollars in free labor and then imposes fees and fines. You have brothers that work in kitchens 12 to 15 hours a day and have done this for years and have never been paid.”
By Carol Rosenberg for the Miami Herald. U.S. troops delivered six long-held Yemeni prisoners from Guantánamo for resettlement in the Arabian Sea nation Oman on Friday, the Pentagon said early Saturday, resuming transfers that had been stalled for months. The mission reduced the detainee population at the prison camps to 116 captives, 51 cleared for transfers with security assurances from the nation taking them in. Among those released was Emad Hassan, 35, whose lawyers said had been on the prison hunger strike since 2007, and failed to get a judge to stop his forced-feedings. Hassan, captured in Pakistan in March 2002, became a devotee of the “Game of Thrones” series and Dan Brown novels from the prison library, according to his attorney Alka Pradhan. All six had been cleared for release for at least five years. None was ever charged with a crime. All were taken to the prison camps in the summer of 2002.
By Ben Reynolds for ROAR. How can we create the fundamental change we so desperately need? We need a superior strategy to the failed strategies of the past; we need a means to turn an uprising into a revolution. History offers a few successful examples of popular organizing we can draw from. During the French Revolution, the popular assemblies of the Paris sections formed a radical base that pushed the developing revolution forward. The Russian Revolution of 1917 saw deliberative popular bodies known as “soviets” overthrow the provisional government in the name of bread and peace. These kinds of systems — based upon deliberative councils and assemblies — frequently appear in any period of unrest or upheaval, and have recently emerged in Argentina, Spain, and elsewhere. In the present, the Kurdish movement in Turkey and Syria employs a developed version of this system known as “democratic confederalism.” Face-to-face neighborhood assemblies form the base of political decision-making, while successive councils operate at the district, city and regional levels. The councils and assemblies deliberate upon all of the issues facing the community and attempt to organize the means to effect necessary changes.