In the last two weeks we have watched as the state has shamelessly taken our comrade Jerry Koch away from his family, loved ones, and political allies. Jerry has chosen to resist the grand jury not only out of principle and an assertion of his rights, but also to protect the radical milieu from further harassment and repression by the FBI.
Just as these pigs raided the home of our comrades at Tortuga House in 2009; showed up at the homes of a number of known New York radicals before May Day of last year; entrapped anarchists such as the Cleveland 4 and NATO 3; and recently arranged for the extradition of five U.S. anarchists to Canada on vandalism charges from the anti-G20 protests in Toronto in 2010, Jerry’s detention serves as a reminder that our ideas and practices will always be regarded as a threat to the order of this world, and such harsh reprisals the consequence of our being.
Jerry has demonstrated perfectly how to deal with this repression in his tireless work doing jail and legal support. When any one of us is in jail, we make sure they get out, waiting until they do, raising bail money if necessary. Any time in a cage is too much time, and freeing our locked-up comrades must always be a top priority.
When the state comes for us, to find us, to talk to us, we slam the door, we insist on whatever meager rights might apply, and we don’t say a word more than is absolutely necessary.
How often we have relied on Jerry himself for support in this work, for advice, for information, for contacts, for help, for his commitment. Now it is Jerry that needs us.
“Security Culture” and our forms of struggle and survival
The astronomical “counter-terrorism” budget in the United States, and New York in particular, has ensured a perpetually deep well of state resources that attempts to monitor, police, and control all corners of society, including of course the lives of radicals, activists, journalists, and people of color.
As a result, our open discussions of our hopes, desires, politics, tactics, and even our jokes now put us at risk. We wrote in March of Sebastian Senakiewicz, arrested before the May 2012 NATO summit in Chicago and charged with “falsely making a terrorist threat.” He was accused of telling someone who was an undercover police officer or informant that he had explosives. Police raided and searched his home and found nothing. He is now in a boot camp and will be deported to his native Poland for joking that he had a bomb hidden in one of his Harry Potter books. Another anti-G20 militant from Ontario found their name in a police report after humorously saying “Kill Whitey” in a meeting.
“Security Culture” means:
Not bragging about any potentially illegal activity, ours or others’.
Not inquiring or reporting who did or claimed to do what, not letting our or others’ seemingly idle curiosities do the work of the police for them.
It means taking what we think, what we say, and what we do as seriously as the state apparently does, taking seriously both the potentials and consequences of our thoughts, words, and actions. This is what Jerry and others are doing by not cooperating with this or any other federal grand jury, by not saying a word to our enemy.
With whom do we share our lives, our trust, our intimacy, our survival, our struggles, with whom do we communicate what we think it means to live and fight together, to protect each other? With whom do we organize against this world? This is what we mean by “security culture.”
Keeping Jerry and all prisoners in our hearts
Although Jerry’s imprisonment hits close to home, let us not ignore or forget the millions of others locked away in prisons worldwide. In the United States alone there are over 2 million people currently locked up, which is both the highest incarceration rate and total prison population of any nation in the world. If you include those on probation or parole in the U.S., the number is closer to 7 million, almost the equivalent of the entire New York City population caught up in our prison system. Since 2002 the United States has operated a concentration camp at Guantanamo Bay with over 500 inmates, many now on hunger strike, and the single largest prison in the world remains New York City’s own Rikers Island, which currently holds 14,000 inmates in cages. As we write these words, Jerry is at Brooklyn’s Metropolitan Detention Center, now the largest federal prison in the country, along with almost 3,000 people.
The crisis in capitalism has meant not just decreases in employment, wages, benefits, and services, but an increase in apparatuses to police and prisons to repress a rising surplus population doomed to live outside of any possibility of financial stability and improvement. Prisons are a boom business in the U.S. The poor, recent immigrants, and workers engaged in labor only prohibited when convenient (drug dealing, prostitution, etc.) are the targets to fill these new gulags, which are 40% Black and 20% Latino/a, numbers far too disproportionate to ignore. We might think of such tactics as a kind of security wager against the insurrection to come, against our capacity to collectively overcome ongoing economic and social oblivion.
For this reason, every prisoner is political, and we demand nothing less than the abolition of all prisons, along with the bourgeois judicial system which maintains them. If anyone wonders why Jerry and others will not cooperate with the federal government, this is why.
Many of us are familiar with supporting prisoners, some of us have even been to prison, but for most of us, watching Jerry led away after the monstrous Judge Keenan’s snarling condemnation was vastly more moving than merely hearing the details of a case.
So let us be moved. Let us support Jerry in any and all ways. Donate to his commissary, write him, send him books, distribute leaflets about him and the other grand juries, wheatpaste posters, drop banners, make noise, march, rebel, organize, survive.
Let’s continue the struggles of Jerry and all militants by BEING the movement, the real movement, to abolish this world, this sick system that has torn away our brave friend from us.
METROPOLITAN DETENTION CENTER
P.O. BOX 329002
BROOKLYN, NY 11232
23 May 2013