Prison Life: Daniel's Blog
What:Punk Rock Karaoke benefiting NYC ABC!
When: February 7, 2014, 8pm
Where: Pine Box Rock Shop 12 Grattan St, Brooklyn, New York 11206
Cost: $8 donation at the door
Join us as we once again storm Brooklyn for a night of punk rock singalongs at
the Pine Box. As with all our events, in addition to being a great time, this
is also a benefit! This time all money raised at the event will benefit NYC
Anarchist Black Cross and their ongoing efforts supporting political prisoners
and opposing the prison industrial complex.
Tell your friends and come ready to have an awesome time. See you there.
Punk Rock Karaoke is a DIY, fund-raising event that benefits a different
community group each time.
Featuring songs from:
Against Me!, Bikini Kill, Black Flag, Bratmobile, Buzzcocks, Choking Victim,
The Clash, Circle Jerks, Crass, Dead Kennedys, Descendents, Devo, Flogging
Molly, Fugazi, Gogol Bordello, Gorilla Biscuits, Jawbreaker, Joy Division,
Minor Threat, The Misfits, NOFX, Operation Ivy, Pixies, The Pogues, Ramones,
Rancid, Screeching Weasel, Sex Pistols, Sleater-Kinney, The Smiths, The
Specials, Stiff Little Fingers, Wire, X, X-Ray Spex + More!!!
P.S. Like us on Facebook to stay up to date on future events:
For more info on NYC ABC: http://nycabc.wordpress.com
NYC Anarchist Black Cross is a collective focused on supporting US-held
political prisoners and prisoners of war and opposing state repression against
revolutionary social justice movements. They are a support group of the continental Anarchist Black
Posted on behalf of NYC ABC
John Tucker of the Tinley Park 5 is due to be released from prison at the end of this month or by early February. So , Bloomington ABC , NYC ABC, and Sacramento Prisoner Support have launched a campaign to start a release fund for John.
“John Tucker, the second of the Tinley Park 5 to be released, will be free in JANUARY! The Tinley Park 5 are 5 men from Indiana charged with multiple felonies for an altercation with active white supremacists at a restaurant in Tinley Park, Illinois. (more info here)
John’s health has been neglected while imprisoned, so he is facing medical expenses, including dentistry and dermatology, when he gets out. John will also be responsible for court costs and court-mandated “anger management” classes.
John has enjoyed many letters, book & commissary donations, and correspondences from his supporters during his time in captivity (y’all have helped to make his time much more tolerable!), but prisoner support doesn’t end when they’re released; transitioning out of prison can be a difficult time for former prisoners. Having felonies on their records creates barriers to housing and employment. Many things about their lives and communities may have changed during their time inside, so extra effort is required to provide support and build solidarity to avoid isolation and undue financial hardship. Please help us create a gracious homecoming and a smooth re-entry for John.
If you cannot provide financial support at this time, we recommend writing the 3 still inside and writing, visiting, and building relationships with other incarcerated folks to continue struggles like those for which the TP5 are imprisoned. Support your local prison rebels!”
Please remember that prisoner support doesn’t end when a comrade is released. Through halfway houses, supervised release, parole, or probation, there is usually state supervision beyond the initial sentence. Also, prison is traumatic. And of course there is the stigma of being a former prisoner that effects nearly every aspect of one’s life. All of this adds up to the less obvious, but equally necessary, support needed when our loved ones come home. Donate to your ability and show an anti-fascist comrade how we welcome folks home.
If for whatever reason you’d rather donate to John offline, please make the check payable to John Tucker and mail it to:
Sacramento Prisoner Support
Post Office Box 163126
Sacramento, California 95816
If you’d like to write to John to let him know you’re thinking of him and that you’re glad he’s getting out soon, he’d love to hear from you. His current address is:
John Tucker M34024
Lincoln Correctional Center
Post Office Box 549
Lincoln, Illinois 62656
More information is available at tinleyparkfive.wordpress.com and j.mp/JohnTucker
We’ve finished the latest version of the NYC ABC “Illustrated Guide to Political Prisoners and Prisoners of War” and it’s available for viewing (and download) by clicking on the tab at the top of this page. This update includes address changes for a few prisoners as well as removing Guillaume Constantineau (TIME SERVED!), Youri Couture (TIME SERVED!), Chris French (TIME SERVED!),Steve Murphy (TIME SERVED!), Mark Neiweem (TIME SERVED!), and Lynne Stewart(COMPASSIONATE RELEASE!).
My friend, fellow activist and codefendant William C. Rodgers, known to those who loved him, as Avalon took his life on the Winter Solstice, December 21, 2005. Avalon was arrested and charged with one count of arson for his alleged role in an ELF arson at the National Wildlife Research Facility in Olympia, Washington. It is likely that those prosecuting our case would have attempted to portray Avalon as the mastermind of the conspiracy based on his age (5-7 years older than most of us) and his long term activism. Sadly, many of my codefendants who cooperated fully with the government were all too happy to indulge the feds with this fallacy, even submitting information only the Judge was able to view.
When I read the words used to describe Avalon, I am perplexed because the man I knew, though far from perfect was a kind, gentle soul who treated me and everyone he met with curiosity and generosity. I remember Avalon as a lover of nature; someone who dedicated much of his adult life to protecting and defending wild places. My memories of him are personal and I hesitate to share them but I just wanted to be clear that the ‘criminal mastermind’ & ‘leader of the ELF’ caricature suggested by cooperating codefendants and prosecution does not match who I knew. I am reminded of the fact that in all likelihood, Avalon would be either out of prison or leaving prison shortly had he not left us prematurely. I think it is pretty clear that part of the reason he chose to kill himself had to do with the betrayal he felt at the hands of many of my codefendants.
I for one, miss Avalon and i think the Earth and our communities are worse off without him.
Rest in peace, friend.
There are many links about Avalon online. Here are a few:
Statement written by the Catalyst Infoshop, which Avalon founded
Memorial page on Earth First! Journal: [TRIGGER ALERT: CONTAINS SUICIDE NOTE TEXT]
PS-I have no doubt that Avalon would be disinterested in any focus on himself as a person and would want want to focus on the issues and our fellow codefendants, who are still inside. Please check out http://earthfirstjournal.org/eco-prisoner-list/ for information on them.
The next event will be December 19, 2013 at Fontana’s Bar at 105 Eldridge Street, Lower East Side, NYC.
We’ll be in the back, in the two-story Chandelier Room (don’t worry, despite the name it’s not too fancy).
We’ll have vegan Ethiopian food from Bunna Café, serving up their new Holiday Menu!
The December 19th Vegan Drinks benefits NYC Anarchist Black Cross and the tremendous work they do supporting all U.S.-held political prisoners. In particular, you’ll have an opportunity to support Animal and Earth Liberation political prisoners by signing holiday greeting cards and writing letters to let our comrades know they are not forgotten, especially during the holiday season. NYC Anarchist Black Cross is a “collective focused on supporting U.S.-held political prisoners and prisoners of war and opposing state repression against revolutionary social justice movements.”
RSVP on Facebook if you like.
Vegan Drinks is a monthly social networking* event for people interested in promoting veganism and advocating for animal rights. Vegan Drinks’ mission is to bring together a diverse group of people—from cupcake aficionados to animal lawyers to veg*ns of all stripes in between—to build new coalitions and promote the sharing of resources. Vegan Drinks is for newbies and oldies. All we expect is an interest in animal rights, veganism and the pursuit of after-work fun. Show up and introduce yourself, pass around business cards (if you’ve got ‘em) and embarrass yourself at least once an hour.
*Although we think love is grand, Vegan Drinks is not a singles’ event. But, if you happen to meet the love of your life at Vegan Drinks, don’t forget to invite us to the wedding!
December 8, 2013
263 Eastern Parkway, Apartment 5D
(between Franklin and Classon, #2,3,4,5 to Franklin Ave./Eastern Pkwy)
Every year, political prisoners and prisoners of war around the US look forward to receiving one of the handmade holiday cards coming from the heart of Brooklyn. This year will be no different. Join Resistance in Brooklyn, NYC Anarchist Black Cross, and Scientific Soul Sessions for an afternoon of crafts, camaraderie, and good food. We’ll have updates and other ways to support the prisoners as well.
WHAT: Political Prisoner Letter-Writing Dinner
WHEN: 7pm sharp, Tuesday, October 29th, 2013
WHERE: CAGE – 83A Hester Street (UPSTAIRS) New York, New York 10002 (directions below)
With grand jury resistance here in NYC, Feds sneaking around in Southern California, and other campaigns & projects across the country, anarchists have their hands full. The work that’s happening on these projects is, in many ways, inspiring. With that inspiration, there are plenty of reasons to become directly involved. It is in the spirit of direct involvement (and the magick of Halloween) that we host another Political Prisoner Letter-Writing Dinner. And what could be more ghoulish than the Green Scare?
Since the early 1980s, public relations hacks have been working to reify the term “eco-terrorism.” By 2004, they became successful and a phrase that a decade earlier had no real meaning was now defined by the United States government and used to introduce legislation. Now we have comrades serving decades for economic sabotage and allegations of thought crime. With several recent animal liberation actions, and Rebecca Rubin facing 5 to seven and a half years, it is clear that Earth and animal liberationists are both still active and still in the cross-hairs of the feds. Join us in letting them know they are not forgotten.
We are also taking this letter-writing night to answer the call to organize an event to get letters on behalf of Marie Mason, in an effort to get her moved from the isolation unit in FMC Carswell, where she is currently imprisoned. For more information on the campaign, visit movemarie.com
The deal, as always, is that you come bringing only yourself (and your friends and comrades), and we provide you with a delicious vegan meal, information about the prisoners as well as all of the letter-writing materials and prisoner-letter-writing info you could ever want to use in one evening. In return, you write a thoughtful letter to a political prisoner or prisoner of war of your choosing or, better yet, keep up a long-term correspondence. We’ll also provide some brief updates and pass around birthday cards for the PP/POWs whose birthdays fall in the next two weeks thanks to thePP/POW Birthday Calendar.
Getting to CAGE is simple:
From the J/M/Z:
Essex Street Stop: Walk west on Delancey Street (toward Essex Street, away from Norfolk Street) and make a left on Essex Street. Walk three blocks and turn right onto Hester Street. We’re two and a half blocks down, on the right.
From the F:
East Broadway Stop: Walk north on Rutgers Street (toward East Broadway, away from Henry Street), that becomes Essex Street, and turn left on Hester Street. We’re two and a half blocks down, on the right.
From the B/D:
Grand Street Stop: Walk east on Grand Street (Toward Forsyth Street, away from Chrystie Street) and turn right on Orchard Street. Walk one block and turn right onto Hester Street. We’re a few storefronts down on the right.
If you have any questions, feel free to get in touch. Otherwise, we’ll see you at supper.
This event is brought to you by your friendly neighborhood Anarchist Black Cross.
Please help get Marie Mason moved out of FMC Carswell by writing a letter to the Bureau of Prisons Director. We are asking as many people as possible to write letters and organize letter writing events so that we can show the BOP just how many people recognize her position as unjust, and support the idea of her being moved into a general population unit closer to her family.
Below is the address to send all letters to, and a sample letter. Please remain firm but polite in your communications with the BOP.
Charles E. Samuels, Jr. , Director,
Federal Bureau of Prisons,
320 First St., NW,
Washington, DC 20534
Dear Director Samuels:
I write on behalf of Marie Mason #04672-061, who is currently incarcerated
in a special isolation unit at FMC Carswell in Fort Worth, Texas. Marie
has been unjustly placed in this unit – without notice or cause- in a move
that is strictly punitive on the part of the BOP. She has had no
disciplinary incidents since her incarceration, poses no threat or danger
to the prison or other inmates and has worked hard to make her life and
the life of her fellow inmates better for the last 5 years. There is no
reason for her to be in this unit – 1000 miles from friends and family.
In fact, you said in a memorandum written to all federal prisoners in June
2013 to reaffirm the importance of parenting that, “there is no substitute
for seeing your children, looking them in the eye, and letting them know
you care about them.” Marie would love the opportunity to do this.
I urge you to transfer Marie to a lower security facility – closer to her
family and friends – so that she can serve the remainder of her sentence
in a facility where she can be housed with the general population.
Her sentence would best be served in a facility consistent with her
peaceful personality and constructive nature.
Thank you for your attention to this matter. If a reply is possible, it
would be appreciated.
Move Marie from Carswell prison
Please join in the campaign to move environmental activist and political prisoner Marie Mason out of the FMC Carswell isolation unit.
Environmental activist and community organizer Marie Mason is serving the longest sentence ever (22 years) for environmentally motivated property destruction. In 2010 she was transferred to the notorious high security prison FMC Carswell.
Now we’re mobilizing to get her moved.
On Monday, October 21st, people across the country and world will keep the Bureau of Prisons office ringing off the hook demanding she be moved. We need your help to make the 21st the day we forced the BOP to take notice.
There are multiple ways to join in on the action:
See the call script and recommended call in time and make the call. It takes a minute, but your participation will make a huge impact on the campaign and the effort to move Marie.
Organize a Phone Tree
Get friends and family in on it by organizing a phone tree. Create a list of people who agree to join you in calling, then pass it out to everyone. The first person calls in, then calls to remind the next person in line. If you get a voicemail, leave a message go down the list until you reach someone. It’s an easy way to help yourself and others follow through.
Join the Call In ThunderClap
A ThunderClap is a way to join hundreds of like minded people in sending out a common tweet on the same date. It helps grab people’s attention and in this case it can help inspire even more folks to join in on the call.
Share Your Call In Story
After calling in, let people know how it went via Diaspora, Twitter, Facebook or other platforms you use. It can be as simple as “I called the BOP to Move Marie!” with a link to the call-in info or a quick rundown of what went down when you called. It will help inspire others to call and raise awareness about the campaign.
Use the following script to help prepare what you will say. Practice a few times to yourself if you’d like. Speak politely and with confidence and urgency.
Call Bureau of Prisons Director Charles E. Samuels, Jr.
Hello, my name is _______ and I am calling about Marie Mason, ID
#04672-061. I would like to speak with Charles E. Samuels Jr. about her
unjust transfer to FMC Carswell.
Hello Mr. Samuels. My name is ________ I am calling on behalf of Marie Mason,
who has been unjustly placed in a special isolation unit at FMC Carswell – without notice or cause- in a move that is strictly punitive on the part of the BOP. Marie has had no disciplinary incidents since her incarceration, poses no threat or danger to the prison or other inmates and has worked hard to make her life and the life of her fellow inmates better for the last 5 years. There is no reason for her to be in this unit – 1000 miles from friends and family.
We demand that Marie be moved to a lower security facility – closer to her
family and friends – so that she can serve the remainder of her sentence in a facility where she can be housed with the general population.
Thank you for your time. I will be following up in the coming months to
check on this situation.
Suggested Call In Times
The BOP office is open 8am-5pm EST. We’re suggesting then that people call in at the following times according to their time zone. Of course, the most important thing is to call, so call when works best for you.
West Coast- Call between noon and 2pm your time
Mountain People- Call between 11am and one your time
Central Folks- Call between 10am and noon your time
East Coast- Call between 9am and 11am your time
Daniel McGowan: The FBI’s Least Wanted
He did his time for burning down two Oregon lumber mills, but he’s not exactly a free man
By Anna Merlan email@example.com
Wednesday, Sep 25 2013
At six o’clock on a cool June morning, after five and a half years in federal prison and six months in a halfway house, Daniel McGowan went home. From the halfway house in Vinegar Hill, he took the F train to downtown Brooklyn, crawled into bed beside his wife, Jenny, and slept for a few hours. Then he headed out to meet his probation officer and a mountain of paperwork. It was his first day as a freed domestic terrorist.
“The definition of terrorism is exactly what they did.”
“I was really horrified at the time of my sentencing at being called a terrorist,” he says. “I’m still horrified.”
At 39, McGowan is a little skinnier than before he went to prison, a little grayer. But he doesn’t look too different from the guy who helped burn down two Oregon lumber mills on behalf of the Earth Liberation Front in 2001, or the guy a federal judge sentenced to seven years in prison for those crimes in 2007. On a recent evening, he’s wearing a loose green T-shirt and several days’ worth of stubble, a bike seat by his side and a smartphone in his hand. He glances at it every few minutes.
Courtesy Jenny Synan
McGowan can’t associate with environmental or animal-rights groups.
“I used to make fun of people who texted all the time,” he says. “And now I’m one of them.”
With a summer of freedom behind him, McGowan is still figuring out the rules of his new reality. Besides being a convicted terrorist, he owes nearly $2 million in restitution, which he’s expected to pay in full. The peculiar terms of his probation forbid him joining “any groups or organizations whose primary purpose is environmental and animal rights activism”—a prohibition that includes nonprofits such as PETA and the Sierra Club. He can’t associate with anyone with a felony on their record, or anyone convicted of illegal environmental or animal rights activity, even a misdemeanor—a tall order for a man who had spent much of his life in activist circles. And, as he learned in the halfway house, writing about his experiences in the prison system has the potential to land him back in jail.
McGowan says he left the ELF soon after the second Oregon arson. He was working at a nonprofit for victims of domestic abuse when he and 12 others were arrested during the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Operation Backfire, which ferreted out ELF members responsible for a series of arsons and other crimes between 1996 and 2001. Vandals targeted lumberyards, slaughterhouses, and U.S. Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service offices, wreaking a record $48 million worth of damage.
Several of those arrested agreed to cooperate with prosecutors. One ELF member secretly recorded conversations with McGowan, helping to convict him on several counts of arson and conspiracy—actions that, in the eyes of U.S. District Court Judge Ann L. Aiken, amounted to terrorism: attempts to create “fear and intimidation to achieve a goal and affect the conduct of government,” as the judge put it at McGowan’s sentencing.
Ten months into his prison term, McGowan was transferred from the general population at the Federal Correctional Institution in Sandstone, Minnesota, to a newer wing in Marion, Illinois, known as a Communication Management Unit. Much of the CMU population is Muslim, but politically affiliated prisoners such as McGowan also find themselves there. The main hallmark of a CMU is restricted contact with the outside world: McGowan was allowed two short, no-contact visits per month—he wasn’t permitted to have any physical contact whatsoever with his wife for the duration of his sentence—and his phone time was limited to a single 15-minute phone call per week. (The BOP has subsequently revised the CMU limits to two 15-minute calls and two four-hour visits.) His mail was delayed and often rejected by a censor as inappropriate. In 2009, while he was incarcerated at Marion, his mother died of cancer. (McGowan was later transferred to the nation’s only other CMU, in Terre Haute, Indiana, where he spent 22 months.)
Court documents would later show that the initial decision to move McGowan into the CMU was made by Leslie Smith, head of the counterterrorism unit of the Federal Bureau of Prisons. Smith acknowledged that McGowan’s disciplinary slate was clean but argued that he posed a threat to public safety because his jailhouse letters and articles constituted “attempt[s] to unite the radical environmental and animal liberation movements.” Additionally, he had requested that his lawyers send him copies of leaked BOP documents—a blatant attempt, the BOP contended, to escape its monitoring of his communications.
After five and a half years in prison, McGowan was sent to a halfway house in Brooklyn to serve out the last six months of his sentence. While he was there, he wrote an article for the Huffington Post detailing his time at the CMU. On April 4, three days after the story was published, federal marshals arrested him, took him to the Metropolitan Detention Center, and issued him an orange jumpsuit. From there, he assumed, he’d be sent back to the CMU for the remainder of his sentence. But his lawyers quickly secured his return to the halfway house and quashed the BOP’s effort to impose a gag order.
“As far as we know, this is a made-up rule applied only to Daniel, in a further attempt to chill his freedom of speech,” wrote Rachel Meeropol, McGowan’s attorney at the New York–based nonprofit Center for Constitutional Rights.
The BOP quietly dropped the matter.
Will Potter is a journalist who has written extensively about environmental activism. He says restrictive parole conditions for activists are becoming more common.
“It reflects the political nature of these prosecutions,” Potter says. “And how this terrorism language can follow people long after they leave the courtroom and long after they leave prison. This is something that can follow these activists the rest of their lives.”
McGowan should not expect the surveillance to stop when his supervised release ends, Potter emphasizes. “At speaking events we’ve done with other former prisoners, law enforcement has been there. Sometimes they come in publicly, flashing badges. In FOIA [Freedom of Information Act] requests later on, I’ve also gotten information about [undercover] police officers at public events. I just can’t imagine what that would be like. It’s a constant cloud over you all the time.”
For Steve Swanson, McGowan’s terrorist designation and the terms of his release seem like justice. Swanson is president and CEO of the Swanson Group, which used to be called Superior Lumber, one of the two companies whose buildings McGowan helped to burn down.
“The definition of terrorism is exactly what they did,” Swanson says. “They were trying to change our behavior by inflicting terror on us. It’s not different than Islamic terrorists or what the IRA was doing back in the ’70s. To say they were nonviolent is just not accurate. We have a total volunteer fire department that responded. Any number of those people could’ve been killed.”
Adds Swanson, “Frankly, we used more wood products to rebuild all those things they burned down.”
At his sentencing, McGowan apologized for the fires, saying he felt “deep regret” for frightening the lumber workers. “Although I now know it’s hard for people to believe, my intention at the time was to be provocative and make a statement,” he told the court. “Not to put individual people in fear.”
Swanson says McGowan has never apologized to him directly.
In the meantime, both men have moved on. The Swanson Group tore down the remnants of its old factory and built a larger one. McGowan recently participated in Running Down the Walls, a fundraiser for political prisoner support groups. He figured it was permissible because it had nothing to do with environmental issues.
Still, he says, that April night in jail was jarring: “Sometimes things feel fragile.”
A federal judge recently ruled that because McGowan is no longer an inmate, he has no standing to participate in a lawsuit against the Bureau of Prisons that challenges the constitutionality of CMUs. Instead, on Tuesday, September 17, he filed a formal complaint against the Federal Bureau of Prisons, alleging that the re-arrest deprived him of his liberty and caused emotional harm.