Daniel McGowan
Daniel McGowan
Daniel McGowan
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Archive for July, 2007

The best support

Thursday, July 26th, 2007

I’m pretty convinced at this point, nearly 20 months after my arrest, that I am incredibly lucky to have the best support network I have ever seen, the aptly named Family and Friends of Daniel McGowan. No offense is meant to any other defendant (or prisoner) support group, but I’ve only experienced the love and support of my crew. That intense support – moral, legal, financial and otherwise – has made all the difference to me and it’s why I write today with acceptance of my current situation and with clear conscience. Ok, maybe not full acceptance – I mean, I still have eyes and ears and can see what is going on in America’s prisons.

I can remember a conversation I had in early January 2006 with my wife Jenny. I was in Lane County Jail in Oregon and my bail hearing was a few weeks off but she told me, “We put a website up for you – supportdaniel.org.” That news helped sustain me through my 23 hour lockdowns knowing my friends had my back and the country would soon hear about the Green Scare being promoted by the good ol’ US of A. To name or attempt to list the many things my support network has done would be a failure. The list is too long and surely I would forget many things. More than things I could list are the intangibles – the subtle and not-so-subtle hints – “Either way, we got your back”, “I don’t care if you did it or not”, “We’ll be here to the end”. Most recently, I’ve had people remind me they will be there with a hug the day I walk out of these prisons.

This will sound cliché, and it is, but maybe that’s a sign you are doing something right. Mail call is my favorite time of the day! You’ve heard this before, maybe from Josh Harper, Peter Young or Jeff Free Luers and others. Since I’ve been here at MDC, I have been embarrassed (in a good way) over and over, each and every day by the insane amount of mail, books and magazines I get. It keeps me reading for hours and although I cannot write people back right now, I at least have a mountain of mail to chip away at. I get this mail because my support network sends out countless bulletins on my list, myspace, IMCs, etc and has printed over 250,000 flyers with my mug on it and because my wife works her ass off on my website. I could go on forever praising people but it can never fully express how thankful I am for all of the support. Solidarity is what makes this term on the “disabled list” doable. (sorry for the sports reference – I stole that one from a friend.)

As always, please keep my codefendants Sadie (statename Joyanna Zacher), Exile (statename Nathan Block) and Jonathan Paul (set to be sentenced in early August) on your mind and in your hearts. All of us are or will be in federal transport soon – a very stressful and chaotic affair.

Finally, I’ve read a few good books lately and highly recommend them:
Dam Nation: Dispatches from the Water Underground by Cleo Woelfle-Erskine (Editor), Laura Allen (Editor), and July Oskar Cole (Editor) (2007). This anthology of writings on water range from dam removal, international water struggles and Manifest Destiny to grey water system construction. This book made me long for the outside where I could set up a grey water system in my own backyard. Published by Soft Skull Press and available there or through AK Press.

The Fight in the Fields: César Chávez and the Farmworkers Movement by Susan Ferriss (Author), Ricardo Sandoval (Author), Diana Hembree (Author). I was so hopelessly ignorant of the plight of farmworkers in California before reading this excellent book. I still am but realize there is a tremendous amount to learn from this hard-working and fairly successful movement. It also made me think a lot about the recent campaigns against Taco Bell and Burger King by the Coalition of Immokalee Workers in Florida.

Love and rage,

First entry

Monday, July 9th, 2007


Well, I have been here one week now and although I don’t have any stamps
yet, and writing with a 4 inch pen that bends is miserable, I thought I
would write if only to say I’m OK. The two months I did back in 2005 did
not, unfortunately, leave a lasting enough impression on me and my
entrance back to prison has been jarring in many ways. A good place to
start and a question you may have is “why did I have to report so early?”
I’ll start from my sentencing.

On June 4th, Judge Aiken sentenced me to a term in federal prison of 84
months, just 8 months less than what the prosecution wanted, citing my
activism from 2001 to my arrest. When the Judge asked the Department of
Probation person how long it would take for the BOP (Bureau of Prisons) to
classify and designate me, she mistakenly said “30 days.” I never objected
to this despite the fact I knew the BOP takes 4-6 weeks to designated
prisoners. Fast forward a few weeks. My legal team files a motion asking
for me to stay out on bond pending designation. I thought it would be
successful since my time on pre-trial release had been incident-free and
both the Department of Probation and Pre-Trial services did not object.
However, the prosecution objected citing three reasons:

1. They said my interview with Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! in early June
showed I had no remorse from my crimes.
2. My support website, supportdaniel.org was “operational.”
3. That had a link to sell a children’s book which encouraged children to
employ arson and sabotage as a tactic.

As luck would have it, I lost and was directed to report to prison on July
2. Regarding the prosecution’s brief, my interview with Amy Goodman on
Democracy Now! was quite long and I expressed regret at many points. I
expressed regret in using arson as a tactic as well as not having people
in my life at that time who could have steered me off the path I was on.
My assertion that I did not do anything morally wrong seems to be the
quote that got a reaction. The website, supportdaniel.org , run by my wife
Jenny since January 2006 is online and last I checked, will continue to be
online for the indefinite future. Since it’s a website set up by people
close to me who love and support me, I see no reason why it would be taken

As I write this, I realize that I am indeed opening up a can of worms. I
have a 7 year prison sentence and a lot of time to write. Being publicly
silenced to comment on my case has not been easy and I assure you I have a
lot to say. We have a lot of time to cover all these topics. For now, I’m
ok. I’m at the Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC) in Sunset Park,
Brooklyn. It is a boring, lifeless jail housing over 2000 men either
awaiting trial, or like me, awaiting designation. The prisoners (not
inmates) are mostly alright and I have had lots of interesting
conversations so far. Even the guards are chill and I’m swapping the meat
off my plate for more veggies. I’ve been working out, shooting hoops and
doing a lot of laps in the rec area. I should be here for a few more weeks
before being transferred somewhere by the BOP.

There is no way I can adequately thank you all but please accept my heart
felt thank you for the bottom of my heart for all the incredible support.
After a boring weekend I was greeted with 20 letters today!

Keep fighting and don’t let them get you down.

With love from behind enemy lines,

PS – Please don’t forget about my fellow non-cooperating defendants
Joyanna, Nathan and Jonathan. The first two, like me, are awaiting
designation and Jonathan is to be sentenced on August 1st. More to say
about my other codefendants later.