Discussion on Resisting Repression & Supporting Political Prisoners

Please join us for a follow-up discussion to our July 1st event, “On Jerry Koch, some stories of Political Repression, and Resistance“. In July we were joined by Tarik Haskins, Dequi Kioni-Sadiki, and Bob Lederer. For this event we’ve invited Eve Rosahn, Cisco Torres, and Laura Whitehorn, who will share their analyses and experiences in facing political repression as a result of revolutionary activity.

Thursday, September 12th 2013, 7PM
ABC No Rio
156 Rivington Street, New York, NY 10002

SOME BACKGROUND ON OUR SUPPORT WORK

Our friend and comrade Jerry Koch has been in prison since Tuesday May 21st, as part of an indefinite detention for refusing to cooperate with a federal grand jury. It’s important to remind ourselves and others of this as often as possible, and that its seriousness continue to influence our lives and organizing.

We also think it’s important to situate what Jerry is currently experiencing within a broader context of political repression. This context includes the 4 grand jury resisters from the Pacific Northwest who earlier this year served 6 months each for refusing to cooperate; as well as the more than dozen anarchists who remain in prison for their recent participation in the Occupy movement; anti-NATO protests; anti-fascist demonstrations; and cyber activism, hacking, and whistleblowing. The latter includes Jeremy Hammond, who since March 2012 has been held inside Manhattan’s federal prison, the Metropolitical Correctional Center (where Jerry is currently held).

More importantly, we’d like to contextualize this recent wave of repression of anarchists within a longer history and narrative, emphasizing in particular political prisoners from Black, Latino, and Native American liberation struggles (as well as the white anti-imperialists who fought alongside them). Some of these comrades have now been locked up for over 4 decades, many for more their half their lives (and since before a lot of us were even born).

ABOUT LAURA WHITEHORN, FRANCISCO TORRES, & EVE ROSAHN

Laura Whitehorn was a member of the Weather Underground, Prairie Fire Organizing Committee, John Brown Anti-Klan Committee, and Madame Binh Graphics Collective. She was arrested in May 1985 as part of the “Resistance Conspiracy case”, along with Alan Berkman (1945-2009), Timothy Blunk, Marilyn Buck (1947-2010), Elizabeth Duke (1940-), Linda Evans (1947-), and Susan Rosenberg (1955-). Laura was held as a political prisoner for 14 years, finally being released in August 1999. She currently lives in New York City with her partner, the writer Susie Day. Since her release, Laura has been engaged in work to end of mass incarceration and free all political prisoners, especially Release Aging People in Prison (RAPP). The RAPP coalition meets the first Wednesday of every month at the Correctional Association, 2090 Adam Clayton Powell Blvd, 2nd Floor, Manhattan. For more information: Mujahid Farid at (212) 254-5700 ext. 317; mfarid@correctionalassociation.org Laura has been the subject of the documentary film Out: The Making of a Revolutionary (2000, Sonja de Vries & Rhonda Collins), and also appeared in The Weather Underground (2002, Sam Green & Bill Siegel) and Cointelpro 101 (2010, Freedom Archives). She edited a collection of writings by Safiya Bukhari (1950-2003), The War Before (2010); and an interview with Whitehorn is featured in the pamphlet “Enemies of the State” (Resistance in Brooklyn, 1999), alongside interviews with Marilyn Buck and David Gilbert (1944-). Elizabeth Duke has evaded capture since October 1985. David Gilbert remains in prison, since October 1981, and is currently held at New York’s Auburn Correctional Facility.

Francisco Torres was born in Puerto Rico and raised here in New York City. He is a Vietnam veteran, and was a member of the Black Panther Party and Black Liberation Army. He was wanted as one of the New York 5, alongside his brother Gabriel Torres, Herman Bell (1948-), Jalil Muntaqim (1951-), and Albert ‘Nuh’ Washington (1941-2000), related to the deaths of two New York City police officers in May 1971. Charges against the Torres brothers were dropped, but Bell, Muntaqim, and Washington were convicted. Beginning in January 2007, Torres was also wanted as one of the San Francisco 8, in a case related to the death of a San Francisco police officer in August 1971. The SF8 included Torres, Bell, and Muntaqim, as well as former Black Panthers Ray Boudreaux, Richard Brown, Hank Jones, Richard O’Neal, and Harold Taylor. Bell and Muntaqim, who were already in prison, plead guilty to reduced charges, and the rest had their charges dismissed. Bell has been in prison since September 1973, and is currently held at New York’s Sullivan Correctional Facility. Muntaqim has been in prison since August 1971, and is currently held at New York’s Auburn Correctional Facility.

Eve Rosahn was one of over 25 people subpoenaed to a grand jury investigating the October 1981 Nyack Brink’s robbery, carried out by allies and members of the Black Liberation Army. Eve (and many others) refused to cooperate with the grand jury, and from 1982-1983 she served 16 months at Metropolitan Correctional Center for civil contempt of court (this is where Jerry Koch and Jeremy Hammond are currently locked-up, Jerry for the same charge as Eve). She’s now a public defender, the Director of the Parole Revocation Defense Unit of the Legal Aid Society of NY. Among those still in prison from the Brink’s robbery include David Gilbert; Judith Clark (1949-), since October 1981, currently at New York’s Bedford Hills Correctional Facility; Sekou Odinga (1944-), since October 1981, currently at New York’s Clinton Correctional Facility; and Mutulu Shakur (1950-), since February 1986, currently at California’s United States Penitentiary – Victorville.

FROM NEW YORK TO TUNISIA: THE PEOPLE WANT THE REGIME TO FALL

A large part of this history of political repression has its roots right here in New York City, which was a base of activity for many of these movements, and the home of many of the comrades who remain locked-up. As such, a number of former political prisoners, grand jury resisters, and members from long-term support committees remain here in New York City, and generously make themselves available for us to learn from as we continue to do this work.

It’s our hope that this recent wave of repression–rather than allow it to accomplish its intended goals of instilling fear, intimidation, and withdrawal–will instead move us to take up the challenge of establishing stronger bonds and ties; a clearer analysis of the state and its methods; and a broader historical understanding of revolutionary movements.

Last month we published some recent writings and an interview with the Disobedience Movement, who are comrades in Tunisia. Since December 2010, people there have been struggling against forms of governance and authoritarianism that came to dominate the Arab world throughout the last 50 years. Though the victories of the Arab Spring in early 2011 inspired committed revolt across the globe, the struggles since then have revealed the need for a longer-term strategy, and new forms of organization and solidarity to ensure that the movements are sustained. Over the last 2 years the Arab world has experienced a number of counter-insurgent and counter-revolutionary actions taken by old and new governments alike, ranging from military interventions, to assassinations, to elections, all intending to either crush or recuperate the revolutionary spirit that was awoken not so long ago. We think it’s important to remind ourselves of the kinds of political repression–and resistance–happening around the world, to help contextualize and situate our local struggles here in New York.

JERRY’S FIRST STATEMENT FROM INSIDE (August 19th, 2013)

First and foremost, I want to thank everyone who has supported me in so many ways these past three months. It has been a hell of a ride thus far, full of sudden transfers and inexplicable delays. In the face of all that, I’m doing all right, although I’d like to see the sun more and truly miss the color green. I miss my friends and my loved ones, and I’m looking forward to the day when I can finally rejoin you all in the land of the living. But I am holding strong. I do not know how much longer the State plans to keep me separated from my family and friends, but I will not bend.

Compared to the vast majority in this prison, I’m lucky. I’m not facing the very real possibility of spending the rest of my life in this place, as so many of the men in my unit are. I am really fortunate to have such strong support on the outside. The solidarity everyone has shown is helping me through this and constantly reaffirms my resolve.

The Federal Grand Jury that put me here is only the most recent facet of an assault on those who wish to be free of state surveillance and intimidation. This legal onslaught has already targeted and claimed the freedom of many anarchists, but we will keep fighting. I will keep fighting. My politics, principles and ethics stand in direct opposition with this legal tool that is used to further enable the government in its assault on anarchists, and I will not lend it any legitimacy, nor will I comply in any way.

Thank you again to everyone for your truly beautiful acts of support. Your letters especially are helping me get through this, and I look forward to talking with many of you soon, on this side of the bars and beyond.

Last, please take the next few minutes to write someone who is locked up—believe me, it will make their day.

With love, with dignity, in solidarity, for anarchy,

Jerry Koch

Gerald Koch #68631-054
MCC New York
Metropolitan Correctional Center
150 Park Row
New York, NY 10007

LINKS

ABC No Rio: http://abcnorio.org/
Committee Against Political Repression: http://nopoliticalrepression.wordpress.com/
Correctional Association: http://www.correctionalassociation.org/
Disobedience Movement: https://www.facebook.com/disobey.tn
Free Herman Bell: http://freehermanbell.org/
Free Jalil: http://www.freejalil.com/
Free Jeremy Hammond: http://freejeremy.net/
Free Sekou Odinga: http://www.sekouodinga.com/
Free the San Francisco 8: http://www.freethesf8.org/
Jerry Resists: http://jerryresists.net/
Mutulu Shakur: http://mutulushakur.com/
NYC Anarchist Black Cross: http://nycabc.wordpress.com/
Pacific Northwest Grand Jury Defiance: http://saynothing.noblogs.org/
Parole Revocation Defense Unit: http://www.legal-aid.org/en/criminal/criminalpractice/parolerevocationsdefenseunit.aspx
Safiya Bukhari: http://safiyabukhari.com/

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