Hello Comrades! It’s me again. I know, I know, it’s been a while since y’all heard from me. For those of y’all who didn’t know, about 8 months ago, due to the pandemic, my now 8 year old daughter passed away. I’ve been battled depression and punched down suicidal thoughts. I literally went to the point of pulling out my hair. Literally! I’m still healing, but I’m back!
Since I’ve been gone I’ve done some serious thinking. What the fuck is wrong with this world? Our so-called worldis crumbling I our hands, yet all we do is stare at it happening. We need to put our heads together and heal these wounds. I can’t be the only one thinking this.
I’ve been thinking – Red, white and blue is supposed to mean “freedom”, except when it’s flashing behind you. Cops are supposed to be trusted because their motto is to “protect and serve”, yet unarmd black men are being killed, indigenous people targeted. Take your damn knees off our necks. We Can’t Breathe! There’s so much hatred and racism out there. I grew in a white supremacist household. It took me a long time to realise that, at the end of the day, we are all human.
I’ve been thinking – There’s so many repeat offenders, yet no rehabilitation. This is really legal modern-day slavery. No wonder the prison system is always packed. So let me get this right… you want to keep me locked up for 15 years, slave in the laundry department folding half-washed clothes for no pay and release me with only $100 and a bus pass to whatever town in Texas I want? You call that rehabilitation? I call it bullshit. Get your knee off our necks. We Can’t Breathe!
I’ve been thinking – that we, in solidarity, need to come together and do more thinking for a better community, a better society, a better world.
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Fire Ant is a quarterly publication focused on spreading the words of anarchist prisoners and generating material solidarity for our imprisoned friends. Begun as a collaboration between anarchist prisoners and anarchists in Maine, Fire Ant seeks to raise material aid for anarchist prisoners while fostering communication between anarchists on both sides of the walls.
Issue #9 is a special June 11th edition. It features an article about Eric King, an update from Sean Swain, a letter about Prison Lives Matter by Jennifer Rose, a piece by Comrade Z, explorations of prisoner support by Peter Werbe and someone from the Anarchist Black Cross, and the 2021 June 11th statement.
The other day for lunch, I was given an apple. This in itself is not interesting since Warden Williams came on, we have had apples exclusively for breakfast lunch and dinner every single day even when we plead for no more apples, the guards will lay them on our bars or push them in our cells. These apples are not necessarily impressive, unless you’re impressed by tiny, mushy or way too large and bruised apples…if so you are in for a treat. A mushy bruised treat! Yum!So a few days ago, as the guards were dumping their apple quota down our throats, a tiny thing was placed on my bars. This fella looked sickly; a dull red like it had been ran through the wash too many times, a miniature wax duplicate of an actual apple. Typically an apple of this quality would be launched down the tier towards the guard station, but I grasped it. I noticed something peculiar…this wee creature wasn’t a typical Williams Apple this one had a leaf STILL ATTACHED!!Imagine my surprise and delight! How did I get so lucky to witness this sigil of determination and survival? After sharing my joy with the tear and being rebuffed as an Eco-jackass I sat down to meditate on this apple leaf combo…please share my Wonder for one moment.. this apple was picked up in Washington (according to the sticker) along with hundreds or thousands of its siblings, rivals, comrades. After being pulled from mother tree with rough yet affectionate hands, our ap(PAL)lol was tossed in a box or a bucket, driven to a processing plant, hosed down, ran through a conveyor belt, and then finally packaged up to be sent into the world to be devoured by convicts. Once packaged, our PAL would be bussed to a storage facility, then bussed again to this old decrepit (sic) prison. After arriving here, the apple crates would be brought to the kitchen, emptied in a big metal bowl for washing, then put into crates to be carried to SHU to be passed out by busy officers.
Throughout all of that action, our little leaf clung to its Apple companion, it’s stuck together even though countless circumstances conspired to separate them. I may sound #soft but the beauty of this made me emotional, we don’t have to let outside forces break us, separate us from our goals. I wanted to mail the PAL to my wife and kiddos, share my inspiration but PAL is bureau “property” and I would have been giving a disciplinary write up (shot) for both, stealing government property, using the mail for criminal activity, and trying to inspire joy and others…very serious accusations. Although this may sound audacious, the theme is very real. Prison serve uninspiring, dangerously unhealthy and starchy foods, to promote laziness and apathy. Prisons lock down joy and anything that’s remotely inspiring. With inspiration comes the knowledge that 1) you do not deserve this and 2) you don’t have to stand for it. Prisons expressly punish and try to tear apart families…being moved across the country, having very limited and expensive phone calls, making visiting as audaciously expensive and frustrating as possible…the goal is to make loving you way too much of an inconvenience for your family and supporters. To make yourself worth plummet to where you sink into prison life, feeling undeserving of Love friendship or a future…prisons exist to break families, shatter spirit, destroy hope…they’ve got centuries of experience and their agents are well trained in psychologically dismantling un-sturdy foundations…they will find loose bricks. Apple showed me what I know and that prison tries to blind us to…. That we can survive intact. They can ship us far away from our families, handle us roughly, send us through the bureau conveyor belt, pack us in like beasts…but they underestimate our will. They’ve never known revolutionary strength and solidarity in their hearts…they’ve never known what it is like to truly feel loved not just by family (who are stronger and more loving than prisons could ever dream) but by friends and even comrades who are strangers our enemies will never experience what you and I have known all along…. They can hurt us, but they will never lay a finger on our love, hope and joy we are stronger than any prison torture -EK
Contact: Lauren Regan, CLDC Executive Director and Senior Staff Attorney firstname.lastname@example.org or (541) 687-9180
CLDC Files Civil Rights Suit On Behalf of Anti-Racist Political Prisoner Eric King
Eugene, OR —Today, the Civil Liberties Defense Center filed a federal civil rights lawsuit under Bivens v. Six Unnamed Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, 403 U.S. 388 (1971), the Federal Tort Claims Act, and the Administrative Procedure Act, against the Federal Bureau of Prisons (“BOP”) and more than 40 of its correctional officers. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Eric King, whose constitutional rights have been continually violated since 2018 in retaliation for his political and anti-racist actions while incarcerated. The complaint alleges that BOP officers have collaborated with each other, and with white supremacist prisoners, to target, harass, and assault Mr. King. Moreover, King has been held in solitary confinement (the Special Housing Unit, or SHU) for over 1,000 days with no explanation or legal justification, in violation of BOP and federal statutory policy. He is currently one of only 80 people who have been held in the SHU for more than a year, let alone almost three years.
“I’m a human being with a family. I’ve been treated deplorably. For the last two years I’ve been stuck in a 6′ x 9′ cage, denied access to my family and my lawyers, and subjected to physical and emotional torture. They’ve done this because of my beliefs, not because of my actions – not because I’m a violent person, but because I disagree with their government. They treat me like I am not a human, and in doing so they reveal they are the true monsters. It shows how horrible this system is, not how horrible I am,” King said.
Eric King is an anarchist political prisoner serving a 10-year sentence for attempted arson of a government official’s office in Kansas City, Missouri, in September 2014. He acted in solidarity with the Ferguson uprising and rebellion — a movement that took place over the summer of 2014 in response to the Ferguson police murder of Michael Brown. At his sentencing, Eric spoke on the record about his political motivations for committing his criminal act, saying “The government in this country is disgusting. The way they treat poor people, the way they treat brown people, the way they treat everyone that’s not in the class of white and male is disgusting, patriarchal, filthy, and racist.”
“Eric King has faced chronic, targeted harassment, as well as severe emotional and physical torture, from BOP officers and known white supremacists working together, for over two years while held in solitary confinement. We reasonably believe this treatment has been in retaliation for his political views and First Amendment-protected activity. It is not acceptable or constitutional, and CLDC will not allow Mr. King’s civil rights to be eviscerated. He justly demands basic human respect and decent conditions. This type of abuse is rampant across the BOP, and needs to be condemned, and the federal criminal punishment system must be held to account,” said Lauren Regan, one of Mr. King’s attorneys with the Civil Liberties Defense Center.
One incident of harassment and torture occurred in 2018, when King was ordered by correctional officers to a small storage room and office, where he was verbally and physically attacked. The black eye he suffered as a result of this attack is visible in the photograph to the right.
In the aftermath of this attack, the guard claimed King had attacked him, and as a result, King was placed in restraints for over eight hours, without any clothing or blankets. While he was restrained, BOP guards further tortured him by threatening, suffocating and strangling him.
Above left, King on his wedding day in 2016. Above right, four days after the attack, with a visible black eye.
What we need now is less, not more. Drug laws perpetuate crime, which, in turn, perpetuates poverty in a never ending cycle. Is a poor child, who grows up surrounded by drugs and their trappings, more likely to become a stock broker or a drug dealer as an adult? Conversely, is the rich child, who is born into the midst of success, more likely to succeed or fail in life? The children have no control over the environment into which they are born, but it has much control over them.
Drug laws do not make society safer. This is an evil lie. They, in fact, make society more dangerous. They are tools used by the government to control and repress the poor. And who is poverty’s largest constituant? The more things change, the more they remain the same. Who benefits from drug las? You decide.
Drug laws are not the only cause of mass incarceration, but they are a major contributor; likely, in fact, the single largest contributor. A recent statistic proclaimed the 22% of today’s prison population is charged with non-violent drug offenses. Falling into this category are approximately 500,000 individuals, but this statistic is misleading; it is artificially low. Multiple offenses ome to be labeled by the criminal justice system as “habitual criminality” rather than minor non-violence drug offenses. These are not included in the 22% figure above. Also not included, but must be considered, are offenses associated with illegal drugs that would not have occurred were drugs not illegal. For example: were drugs legal there would be no more drug deals to go ad, and no one to get gunned down because of it. This, of course, is a simplified exmple. In reality, the percentage quote above is likely half the truth.
Contrary to what some may believe – I myself was in this camp upon a time, that the US Criminal Justice System is not broken. On the contrary, it is functioning as intended. There is a myth told; no, worse, than a myth, a lie; that prisons make society safer. With but few exceptions, they do the exact opposite, and the criminal justice system at large is no less evil. The wheel, with all of its cogs, makes the strong stronger, the weak weaker, the rich richer, and the poor poorer. Indeed, it works like a fine timepiece. To describe the system as ever having been just would be a misnomer, but perhaps there was a time when it was closer to that than it is today.
The public is driven to outrage by unnecessary police violence, and they react (sometimes violently) to it. They do so because much of it occurs in plain view and is reported on by the Press and private citizens alike. But let us consider that portion of police misconduct which is not “violent”, but is hidden from the public view (e.g. falsifying reports, planting evidence, lying in court, etc.). Should not the public be all the more outrages by misconduct hidden from them? After all, if the police are so bold as to become unnecessarily violent while in front of the camera, what ravages might they be committing from behind it?
Worse yet, the violence and misconduct committed by the police is but one small piece of a much larger criminal justice system puzzle. Worse by far, because they are veiled from public view, is the US prison systemwith their more than 6,000 facilities, which, along with federal and state prisons, include: prisons in US imperial territories, military prisons, local jails, Indian country jails, juvenile detention facilities, Immigrant and Customs Enforcement facilities, civil commitment facilities, and likely some facilities that are unknown to all but those with a “Need to Know”. Prison operations differ from police operations – and are more dangerous because of this difference – in that they operate in near complete opacity. Prisons match the police in violent deaths at the hands of their stuff, though the public seldom learns of such, and surpasses them by every other measure of misconduct. On average, six people per day (nearly 2,200 yearly) die violent deaths in the US at the hands of police or prison staff, with the split being more or les equal. Beyond this violent death toll lie a large number of deaths that are attributable to neglect or indifference; but in the end, dead is dead. Whether by violence, neglect, or indifference makes no difference, There are other injuries, hurts and wrongs (both physical and mental) that do not result in death.
Does the violence and misconduct stop with the police and prisons? Hardly. These, in fact, are the least of the lot, but what lies beyond is invisible to the general public audience. It is, however, no less real because of the fact. Let us, then, take the next rung on this ladder and consider prosecutors. Of the US’s wrongful convictions that have thus far resulted in the exoneration of the person convicted, prosecutorial misconduct was cited as a contributing factor in more than fifty-percent of those cases. This suggests, at least in potential, that more than half of the prosecutors in the US are harboring questionable ethics. Could any of these prosecutors be acting out of malice? Former Dallas County Texas District Attorney, Henry Wade, has been quoted as saying, “Guilty ones are easy to convict. It takes real effort to convict the innocent.” (Criminal Legal News, vol. 1 No. 13, Dec. 2018, p.38) Does this sound malicious to you?
Further up this ladder we find judges and their misconduct and, further still, we find politicians and other influencers, but their misconducts are harder to identify and even more so to prove. They are well protected and have many minions to absorb the blame.