Here it is, folks. Tuesday, January 19, 2010. Mumia is reporting on racism in America from behind bars, and the Philly DA is seeking the death penalty. That was nearly thirty years ago.
And that's the story today.
I'm the babiest of the baby-boomers, and we are a pathetic lot, my generation of Americans. Some revolutionaries. We're a bunch of tenured professors now. Those of us who didn't go off to prison over racism, Reagan or Bush sure sold out with Clinton. We sold out all our prisoners in the 90s. We stripped them of almost all their rights while we were so worried about defending Bill's right to screw around on his wife with our time.
What a wasted presidency. And he pardoned Rich, of all people - a guy who should have been in prison because of his selfishness and greed - he didn't even have worthy politics. People took up arms in this country to resist South African apartheid, a piece of our history that too few Americans of any color are aware of. They sacrificed their lives trying to end our death squads and coups in Central and South America - and Ollie North got a presidential pardon and his own TV show for his efforts.
Has anyone really ever had justice in America? Do the real criminals ever get their due? Most seem to draw pensions from us...through all the halls of government.
Leonard Peltier, The Cuban Five, the Puerto Rican Independistas, and all those Black Panthers - why are they all still in prison? Why are they still in so much danger? Why are the political prisoners by and large silent now? Why have they been condemned to die in federal prisons across the country - one after another this summer and fall - without us rising in united opposition and outrage? Do we know who they are anymore?
Do we even know who we are?
What will we do today when the Supreme Court tells us they're going to let PA kill Mumia? Tune in to Jon Stewart at 11?
Where is the Change We Believed In, anyway?
It was never going to come from high offices or the White House. That's why it's taking so long for us to get anywhere - we keep following the other guy's leaders. Wake up, everybody - they let him in; we didn't really put him there. The Change will have to come from us. We are the ones who abandoned our elders and revolutionaries, our poets and dreamers. Our real activists. We've left their executions to the next generation.
We couldn't even end the death penalty. We won't leave them with universal health care. We are leaving them as the world's largest incarcerator - not the Land of the Free. We are the ones who need to make amends now. We need to make this right somehow.
We can't surrender again. Respect for their "due process" should not entail sacrificing ours - or anyone else's. Look at all those kids going in from the Green Scare - we set them all up for that, dammit, not Bush. America's due process is racist, classist, sexist - need I go on? It works the way it's intended to - it supports the power elite at everyone else's expense - extraordinary expense.
"Fixing" their system makes it work "better" - I don't think that's what we really want to do. Fixing the prison industrial complex (the Supreme Court just tops it off) is often compared to fixing the institution of slavery. That's why I decided abolition was the better approach. It's not as easy an answer, but at least it doesn't have me trying to figure out how I'm going to accommodate thousands more prisoners in the next few years, like Pearce is. That's a real visionary: more prisons for the grandkids to live and work in.
So, I ask again: what will we do when the court returns their decision? I don't know the answer - I don't even know what I'll do. I'm afraid we'll respond with a stunned silence. We can pretty much guess how it's going to play out - like all those parole hearings have been going: our people are getting fried.
Whatever happened here Saturday, the anarchists are making a lot more sense to me these days than anyone else, frankly. We need to take to the streets. I want all our political prisoners free, but shame on anyone who sits by with nothing but a sign after this day until ordinary families can stop worrying about their loved ones being raped or killed or burned alive doing time for their poverty, mental illness, or a crime that they never even committed. No one should have to go through any of that in the state's custody and "care".
Retiring Arizona Prison Watch...
This site was originally started in July 2009 as an independent endeavor to monitor conditions in Arizona's criminal justice system, as well as offer some critical analysis of the prison industrial complex from a prison abolitionist/anarchist's perspective. It was begun in the aftermath of the death of Marcia Powell, a 48 year old AZ state prisoner who was left in an outdoor cage in the desert sun for over four hours while on a 10-minute suicide watch. That was at ASPC-Perryville, in Goodyear, AZ, in May 2009.
Marcia, a seriously mentally ill woman with a meth habit sentenced to the minimum mandatory 27 months in prison for prostitution was already deemed by society as disposable. She was therefore easily ignored by numerous prison officers as she pleaded for water and relief from the sun for four hours. She was ultimately found collapsed in her own feces, with second degree burns on her body, her organs failing, and her body exceeding the 108 degrees the thermometer would record. 16 officers and staff were disciplined for her death, but no one was ever prosecuted for her homicide. Her story is here.
Marcia's death and this blog compelled me to work for the next 5 1/2 years to document and challenge the prison industrial complex in AZ, most specifically as manifested in the Arizona Department of Corrections. I corresponded with over 1,000 prisoners in that time, as well as many of their loved ones, offering all what resources I could find for fighting the AZ DOC themselves - most regarding their health or matters of personal safety.
I also began to work with the survivors of prison violence, as I often heard from the loved ones of the dead, and learned their stories. During that time I memorialized the Ghosts of Jan Brewer - state prisoners under her regime who were lost to neglect, suicide or violence - across the city's sidewalks in large chalk murals. Some of that art is here.
In November 2014 I left Phoenix abruptly to care for my family. By early 2015 I was no longer keeping up this blog site, save occasional posts about a young prisoner in solitary confinement in Arpaio's jail, Jessie B.
I'm deeply grateful to the prisoners who educated, confided in, and encouraged me throughout the years I did this work. My life has been made all the more rich and meaningful by their engagement.
I've linked to some posts about advocating for state prisoner health and safety to the right, as well as other resources for families and friends. If you are in need of additional assistance fighting the prison industrial complex in Arizona - or if you care to offer some aid to the cause - please contact the Phoenix Anarchist Black Cross at PO Box 7241 / Tempe, AZ 85281. email@example.com
until all are free -
MARGARET J PLEWS (June 1, 2015)
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