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.

until all are free -

MARGARET J PLEWS (June 1, 2015)


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Sunday, January 17, 2010

We Are Human, too: Arpaio Protesters Attacked and Arrested.

Here's my contribution to the march yesterday.

I only made it there for the beginning, so have a few more photos below - I just don't have any stamina these days. 


So check this out: I have a hard time believing these folks were really planning to throw bottles and rocks at cops and go to jail dressed like this. In fact, they seem to be having  a nice dialogue with this one. 

Now, most people wouldn't look at these folks and think they were Anarchists - they're some of our finest, actually, and they're some of the most creative protesters I know. They don't need to throw stuff - this is much more effective at getting the message across: Alienation. That tells me there wasn't necessarily some agenda among the area Anarchists to pick a fight with anyone. 

Now, this is me. I don't know enough about Anarchy to be a spokesperson for it, so I don't call myself an Anarchist - but I'm pretty much in alignment with a lot of it. Do I look like some kind of radical Anarchist? 


C'mon. Never mind the "Rage Against the Machine." I'm 45 years old and maybe 105 lbs. I'm neither young, male, nor really even white enough to fit your stereotype. But Anarchists are the folks I gravitate towards, and I would have probably been outside the jail with them if I could have handled the march. I could have easily "assaulted" a police officer, too, god knows.

Frankly, the Anarchists protest every oppression that the state has a hand in, and these cops probably had it in for us from the moment this demonstration was planned - they knew better than to go after the Puente families with kids, but I bet they couldn't wait to get their hands on some Anarchists. No one ever complains when the Anarchists are hassled - even on this count, the biggest complaint is that the police gassed children. They can even beat us up a little and  say that we were the ones who assaulted them - the rest of the Left usually stands mute, fuming at us. 

So, our allies are not often quick to come to our defense, assuming themselves, of course, that Anarchists necessarily digress into violence and are therefore likely to be to blame for any smear of violence at a protest. Sometimes I'm afraid they would let them execute us without much resistance, just because of this latent hostility towards Anarchists. I've read enough Anarchist literature to know that it's because we call them on their shit just as we do to the Right. The Left here are mostly just capitalists, too. That's not very Left. 

So, we get a little antagonistic with our friends - someone needs to be. Someone should be appropriately outraged and on the edge of everything. I think the Anarchists are.

Check these guys out, by the way. The Indigenous Anarchist community is awesome.

As for me, I think the state routinely employs excess violence, and the handful of anarchists arrested yesterday - or the 10,000 people they were with - weren't such a threat to the security of Tent City that they needed to be sending horses into that crowd pepper-spraying children. That's a guarantee that someone's going to get hurt. Look at how their lack of control quickly becomes our fault. 

Frankly, it sounds to me from the accounts I've read as if the Anarchists might have easily been trying to defend people in the crowd from the police incursion. The cops just freaked out. Or they were being provocative because nothing yet had really happened they could arrest anyone on (boy, I bet I'm making fast friends in law enforcement today...).

I'm posting this news piece that's up on AZ Indymedia - if you want to read the garbage the police and the media spit out, find the article from the AZ Republic or Washington Post or something.  Steve Lemons gave it a write up in the PHX New Times - and will have more today, I guess. Couldn't tell if he was more disgusted with the protesters or police, though. He doesn't want to blame the "so-called" Anarchists - it think he's pissed at the protesters - but I'm pretty sure those are real Anarchists involved, God Bless them. 

I bet there's plenty of video footage showing what actually happened - if nothing else, the Anarchists are usually covered by Copwatchers and cameras, since they otherwise have a hard time defending themselves. Sometimes no matter how passive you are, if you're wearing black with a bunch of others who have bandannas covering their faces, there's just no way to avoid a resisting arrest or assaulting-an-officer charge - especially if they're the ones who assaulted you. Not that some of us don't fight back - we have the right and responsibility to defend ourselves and comrades against state violence. But there are a number of ways to fight back that don't necessarily engage the cops with fists.

Last I heard a couple of these folks still needed $1,800 bail. They were organizing at Conspire Phoenix when I was there last night - if you have something to give to their defense, that's where I'd inquire first. 

I'm still trying to raise money for my own favorite criminal - she's about to turn 59, has a compromised immune system, and jail could just kill her - so keep dropping by my place, if you're looking for some good additions to your library and want to support the cause. All the stuff is at Free Marcia Powell, now, so this doesn't look like the home shopping channel. I've been depending a lot on the support of Anarchists for that, actually. Guess they have their hands full, now. 

Still, I think even if one of them did pop a cop, we should try to spring them. It was a heated moment, and they were in a more vulnerable position than the cops (you know how big those horses are?). Nothing attributed to them is near as bad as the violence cops perpetrate and get away with all the time, and I can't say I haven't had the impulse to punch someone in uniform than once myself - some of them are real bad criminals. Besides, they aren't the ones hitting children with pepper spray. If that can be an accident, so can brushing up against a cop with your flagpole. The cops should cut them all loose and apologize for attacking the crowd in the first place.

So, let's be there for our comrades. 

And please remember mine. I'm selling Tenacious Zines to raise the funds to keep her free. I'm not sure what we'll do for these folks, but we'll do something.


Here's the list:

Suspects arrested and booked into jail:
Daniels, Sarah Grace  W/F  23 years old: Booked for Agg Assault on Police P623076
Henry, Jeremiah M  W/M  18 years old: Booked for Agg Assault on Police P623071
Klasek, Garyn  W/M   30 years old: Booked for Agg Assault on Police & Disorderly Conduct P623074
Brock, Claire E  W/F  23 years old; booked for Resisting Arrest & Disorderly Conduct P623069
Emadi, Issa A  W/M  26 years old; booked for Agg Assault on Police P623068

Police unleash pepper gas on non-violent protesters; 5 arrested 
More than 10,000 demonstrators came out on January 16 to protest against Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his repression of unauthorized immigrants. In the latest and largest in a series of protests against Sheriff Joe, demonstrators marched to MCSO's "tent city", an urban concentration camp where inmates, many arrested on immigration charges, are held 24-7 in the open air.

While marchers focused on Arpaio's 287g arrangement with federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement and his high-profile immigration raids, other participants questioned the focus on immigration alone, given the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office's role in forclosure evictions, and also that the Phoenix Police Department turned over more unauthorized migrants to ICE in fiscal year 2009 than did Arpaio's sheriff's department.
Toward the end of the day, police attacked marchers, indiscriminately deploying pepper gas in an area that included a number of young children and families. In addition to street medics, EMTs were called to provide emergency care to at least three individuals, including an infant and young child. Five individuals were singled out for arrest and are being charged with aggravated assault of a police officer. In a news story on the march, the Arizona Republic repeated police statements that demonstrators attacked a police horse with metal poles, despite such allegations contradicting numerous eye-witness accounts, including the following post to Arizona Indymedia:

"Unprovoked, a female officer on horseback (who later covered her name on her uniform) charged her horse headlong into the march, colliding with several people and in the process almost running over at least one child in a stroller. After attacking families and protesters, she then whipped out her pepper spray and let loose on the whole crowd, who fled the noxious spew. In the process, children were blasted with pepper spray. After that, other Phoenix PD officers stormed the crowd, violently attacking marchers, dragging several to the ground and further deploying their chemical weapons from all directions in an attempt to justify their their aggression by nabbing a few people. Dozens were so affected that they were soaked in chemicals, having to strip off clothes to stop the burning."

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