Prison Life: Daniel's Blog
Daniel will be speaking publicly about the Communication Management Unit this Sunday, June 1 at 12pm at the Left Forum.
The panel will discuss the erosion of basic rights resulting from post-9/11 War On Terror (WOT) policies and practices – in our communities, courtrooms and prisons across the US. It will feature stories of impacted family members, former prisoners, and advocates, who have been resisting alarming trends in human rights violations since 9/11.
Panelists to include:
1. Daniel McGowan is an environmental and social justice activist from NYC, and a former political prisoner. As a former defendant and political prisoner, Daniel will reflect on how terrorism laws have been used to prosecute certain targeted groups and moreover how the WOT rationale is invoked again post-conviction to penalize protected activity and identity, e.g., through the use of Communication Management Units in federal prisons and other harsh conditions of confinement which further suppress political expression.
2. Ms. Shahina Parveen Siraj is a leader in DRUM – South Asian Organizing Center, and the mother of Shahawar Matin Siraj, who was entrapped by the NYPD;
3. Fahd Ahmed is the Legal and Policy Director at DRUM;
4. Chair: Abigail Downs is a Legal Worker at the Center for Constitutional Rights.
By exploring the linkages between repression of environmental activists, Muslims, and immigrants in the US under the WOT paradigm, the panel will encourage activists of the Left to think through how we can build bridges and mobilize together to achieve a more just society — by challenging both the rights violations that have increasingly become the norm in terrorism prosecutions post-9/11 and also broader injustices in the criminal justice system. In the spirit of the Forum’s 2014 theme, the panel will explore strategies to effect change and debate the pitfalls of reform tactics that permit categories of people to remain vulnerable to grave abuses.
John Jay College of Criminal Justice
524 W. 59th St (Between 10th and 11th)
New York, New York
Background reading material by Daniel and about the CMU:
Tales from Inside the U.S. Gitmo
Urgent Appeal from a Secret Prison
Live From Little Guantanamo
Court Documents Prove I was Sent to Communication Management Units (CMU) for my Political Speech
Daniel McGowan, Put in an Extreme Prison Isolation Unit for Writing Things, Loses Lawsuit Against Bureau of Prisons
Bureau of Prisons Backtracks, Again, On Daniel McGowan
Daniel McGowan Released After Lawyers Confirm He Was Jailed For HuffPost Blog
Daniel McGowan Jailed, Allegedly For Writing Huffington Post Blog (UPDATE)
UPDATE: BOP Invents Special Restriction for Environmental Activist Daniel McGowan: No Publishing Articles
Environmentalist Back in Jail Days After Writing About His Secretive Prison Unit for HuffPost- by Will Potter
Daniel McGowan Forbidden From Publishing Articles Without Permission
We are reaching out to you today because you have expressed interest and shown support to Daniel these past eight years. Daniel came out of prison December 2012, and thanks to an old friend, started work two days later at a progressive law firm in New York City. He is now at the point where he wants to move on and further his career goals. We are writing to see if you can assist us with leads or ideas. Like 2 years ago, Daniel’s primary job goal is one in communications, one in which he can utilize his verbal and writing skills to communicate to a greater audience. Daniel is primarily interested in working for a non profit organization but is not opposed to working for a business that is not engaged in harmful behavior.
Daniel has been working as a receptionist for a law firm for the past few years. In addition to having a college degree, Daniel completed a paralegal course as well as many continuing education and vocational course available while in prison despite limited opportunities for education. He is driven and has a broad skill-set that he is looking to utilize. If you would like a copy of his resume, please email us.
Some of the areas Daniel is interested in are:
*Civil liberties/Free speech
*Recycling or Waste reduction
*Harm reduction/Drug policy
If you work for a NYC-based non-profit, have a close friend, partner or contact at one, or have a specific organization or business in mind that might be open to hiring Daniel, we’d love to hear from you! Specific job ads or contacts are welcome. Thank you so much for your help.
All emails can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org
Dear Friends of Daniel,
There are just two more days left to submit public comments on the Communication Management Units (CMU) that Daniel was held in for much of his prison sentence and which continue to operate illegally at both FCI Terre Haute and USP Marion. There are roughly 90 men still housed in these isolation units that are suffering from a lack of contact with their families and extreme restrictions on their contact with society. As you know, the units have been a source of litigation practically since they have opened with the Center for the Constitutional Rights and prisoners from the CMU filing Aref v Holder in April of 2010. The case is ongoing and nearing its conclusion this year hopefully.
In order to help with your public comments, we recommend checking out CCR’s letter writing ideas here.
Also, VICE magazine recently published an in-depth article on the CMUs by Annie P. Waldman that focuses on Daniel’s former CMU neighbor, Yassin Aref who not only was a resident of both CMUs but was indicted in a fake terrorism scheme concocted by the FBI in Albany, NY. The article, ‘Inside the Kafkaesque world of the US’s Little Guantanamos‘ sheds lights on the struggles of CMU prisoners in maintaining family ties and their sanity as well as the lingering effects of isolation felt by released prisoners like Daniel.
Below is the original action alert for the CMU public comments.
The Bureau of Prisons (BOP) has reopened the public comment period for the Communication Management Units (CMU). You may remember that the original comment period of 2010 netted 700+ letters and emails against the restrictions outlined in the proposal. The Department of Justice ended the comment period and have sat on their hands since then in terms of getting actual legal approval to operate and maintain the CMUs. As a prisoner at Marion CMU during that time, our comrade Daniel McGowan tells us, “knowing that people outside of prison cared enough to put their concerns in writing on our behalf was heartening and re-energized my effort to close the CMUs.”
The BOP has opened public comment for just two weeks. Please check out the links below and send a clear message to them about these units and how they should be immediately closed.
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.