Re: [sixties-l] Only as Free as the Padlocked Prison Door

From: Ron Jacobs (
Date: Fri Aug 04 2000 - 11:48:11 CUT

  • Next message: Johanna Fernandez Pena: "[sixties-l] Fwd: [nyc-dan] JAIL SOLIDARITY DEMANDS & UPDATE (fwd)"

    yes it is....

    At 12:54 PM 08/03/2000 -0700, you wrote:
    >radman asks:
    >hey ron, is this you?
    >From: Independent Media Center - Philadelphia
    >Thursday August 03, @02:53PM
    >Only as Free as the Padlocked Prison Door
    >By ron jacobs
    >Only as Free as the Padlocked Prison Door
    >The folks arrested in the past few days in the streets of Philadelphia
    >are political prisoners. They are in the Roundhouse and Holmesburg
    >jails because they were expressing their political beliefs. There is a
    >very real likelihood that some of them will face serious felony charges
    >and there is the further likelihood that a few will face some kind of
    >federal charges concerning intent to riot when it is all over.
    >Although I still believe that a federal prosecution on these types of
    >charges are more likely under a Bush regime, they could also occur
    >should Gore win the election in November. If one recalls what happened
    >in 1968, although it was the Democratic convention that was disrupted by
    >the infamous Chicago police riots, the Nixon justice department
    >conducted the prosecution of the Chicago 8 conspiracy.
    >Prisoners who either have been released or been able to reach the
    >independent media from jail tell of beatings in the jails, denial of
    >food, water, and medicine, and the denial of legal counsel to those
    >arrested. This is but a prelude to what lies ahead. The police are but
    >the most obvious participants in the system of oppression in this
    >country. Beatings of prisoners happen all the time in our nation's
    >jails. Indeed, in the communities of color in our nation, men and women
    >are beaten by police even before they are in jail and often without even
    >going there. And, as we all know, more than a few are killed without
    >any type of due process even considered. None of these comments are
    >meant to diminish the brutality of the police in Philadelphia this week
    >nor should they be construed to diminish the experiences of those
    >sisters in brothers currently being held under less than humane
    >conditions in the jail of that city.
    >If we are to learn from the experiences of the past--recent and
    >historically--we must ensure that the movement does not become a
    >movement that spends all its energy getting people out of prison. Nor
    >must it become one that forgets those who are in prison. The work
    >around Mumia Abu Jamal and other political prisoners has been
    >instructive in this matter in that Mumia, Black Panther Geronimo ji Jaga
    >Pratt, and others are insistent in relating their situation to the
    >greater struggle for social justice. If (or perhaps when) the trials of
    >those arrested in Philadelphia begin and especially if serious charges
    >are brought against those the government deems the movement's leaders
    >(as they did in 1969 after Chicago), it is up to us to link any struggle
    >for their freedom to the greater struggle in the world against global
    >capitalism, racism and militarism. In short, we must turn the tables on
    >the prosecution and put the system they represent on trial.
    >After the protests against the WTO in Seattle there were those in the
    >movement who attempted to separate themselves from that action's more
    >militant protestors--the so-called anarchists. This was, plain and
    >simply, doing the work of the state. We should not allow this dynamic
    >to occur, even if we have sincere problems with the tactics of certain
    >groups within our amorphous coalition. When this dynamic exists, the
    >state and its law enforcement apparatus has no qualms about exacerbating
    >those differences, which often leads to our more militant sisters and
    >brothers going it alone if they are arrested. One very recent example
    >is that of Rob Thaxton (or Rico) who is spending seven years in the
    >Oregon prison system for his involvement in J18 activities in Eugene in
    >1998. His trial drew little support outside of northwestern U.S.
    >anarchist circles and, perhaps because of that (and the obvious
    >prejudice of the judge), he received close to the maximum sentence.
    >If more of our comrades end up in prisons this can be a beneficial
    >organizing opportunity. As historical events like Attica and the
    >struggles for justice in California prisons in the Sixties and seventies
    >showed, prisoners of capitalism are open to political education and
    >organization. However, it is important to remember that organization of
    >those on the outside is equally important and that the emotional and
    >political perspectives of the two groups (outside and inside prisons)
    >are not always the same. While life is undeniably brutish in many
    >working class communities in the world, prison is even more so.
    >Consequently, the sense of desperation is often magnified when one is
    >inside. This means that one is often prepared to take very desperate
    >measures that, while making perfect tactical sense to a prisoner, do not
    >make a similar sense when considered objectively from the outside. In
    >addition, the controlled environment of the prison allows for even more
    >police interference and manipulation of people and projects than occurs
    >in the "free" world.
    >All this said, let us take inspiration and instruction from those in
    >jail in Philadelphia and those political prisoners throughout the United
    >States. The struggle to free these prisoners and the struggle to free
    >us all from the economic prison of global capitalism and its evils are
    >one and the same.

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Fri Aug 04 2000 - 18:41:49 CUT