Some interesting books I have read in the past few months:
The Omnivore’s Dilemna by Michael Pollan
Durutti in the Spanish Revolution by Abel Paz
The Book of Five Rings by Miyumoto Musashi
Guns, Germs, and Steel and The Third Chimpanzee both by
The World Without Us by Alan Weisman
Fledgling by Octavia Butler
The Harry Potter Series (7 Books) – J. K. Rowling
The Weather Makers by Tim Flannery
Evasion by Anonymous
The Secret Servant by Daniel Silva
Army of None: Strategies to Counter Military Recruitment, End War
Build a Better World by Aimee Allison and David Solnit
Ecoholic by Adria Vasil
Thought to Exist in the Wild: Awakening from the Nightmare of
by Derrick Jensen (Author) and Karen Tweedy-Holmes (Photographer)
In the Spirit of Crazy horse by Peter Matthiesen
An Inconvenient Truth by Al Gore
A People’s History of the United States: 1492-Present by Howard
Five Families: The Rise, Decline, and Resurgence of America’s Most
Powerful Mafia Empires by Selwyn Raab
Dam Nation: Dispatches from the Water Underground Edited by Cleo
Woelfle-Erskine, Laura Allen, and Oskar July Cole
Mad Bomber Melville by Leslie James Pickering
Neverwhere: A Novel by Neil Gaiman
Aftershock: Confronting Trauma in a Violent World, a Guide for
Activists and Their Allies by pattrice jones
Archive for November, 2007
Some interesting books I have read in the past few months:
The prison allots me 300 minutes a month to use on the phone. 300. Sounds like a lot at first, but it’s nothing really. It works out to 10 minutes a day, roughly. 5 hours a month in 10 minute increments. Does this sound like a humane amount to you? On any given day, before I was imprisoned, my partner Jenny would come home from work and we’d spend 4-5 hours together before going to bed. A lot of this time was spent talking, catching up on the day’s events and sharing dinner. Now I’m 1,200 miles from home, in the unfamiliar Midwest and I can only speak to her about 10 minutes a day. Oh, I work that number. Sometimes we speak for 15, but then we have to skip a day or two. This example doesn’t take into account that I like to call my family weekly and friends from time to time. It’s become apparent that as time goes on, I will be calling only a short number of the 26 phone numbers on my call list. With 300 minutes a month, how can I justify calling someone to “chat” or pass the time? A major goal of mine is to leave here with my relationship with my wife and partner intact– not just intact but healthy. Sometimes I think I’m naive. How can I hope to maintain a relationship on 10 minutes a day?
Well, that’s not really the goal of the Bureau of Prisons (BOP). Oh, they aren’t conspiring behind my back to destroy my marriage (although sometimes I think to myself, Minnesota? and think WHAT THE !). No, they just don’t care. It’s all quite irrelevant to them, really. We’re here to be warehoused, to be kept apart from society and to punish us for transgressions of the law. I’m not being too rhetorical– the term warehouse is on bop.gov! Family ties? Community Connections? Housing one within 500 miles of their home? Rehabilitation? That doesn’t fit the equation here. Never mind that people with close ties to their family and community, with frequent visits and meaningful programs to participate in have significantly lower recidivism rates. Sometimes I get the acute sense the revolving door of these federal prisons really doesn’t bother those in charge.
This month (and December), we have 400 phone minutes, presumably because it’s the holidays. Is it mercy? Compassion? I don’t know, as the memo about it only states facts, not rationales. (I mean, we’re “inmates” so no need to explain anything to us!). I don’t look forward to January when I’m counting minutes, nervously staring at my watch and cutting people off rudely to tell them “one minute left.” For now, I’ll take what I can get–an extra 1.5 hours on the phone with my sweetie is something to savor.
Phone calls are rather expensive: 23 cents a minute for long distance calls. Please consider donating much-needed funds to my co-defendants so that they may pay for calls to their family and friends.
Jonathan Paul’s support folks can be reached at:
Sadie’s and Exile’s support folks can be reached at
Welcome to the new Support Daniel blog! Please take some time to read all the of the entries posted below since a number of them were never posted previously. Enjoy the new layout. Special thanks to Mike who got this created so quickly! (He’s also the superstar behind the design of the whole site).
On November 30th, there will be an event in New York City celebrating the legacy of the Black Panther Party and in support of the San Francisco 8. We will be co-sponsoring the event along with the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, NYC Anarchist Black Cross, SEIU Local 1199, The Jericho Movement, Campaign to End the Death Penalty, the Free Mumia coalition, and more local political prisoner organizations. If you are in the NYC area, it’s important you attend this event and show your solidarity with the 8 former Black Panthers. Let me back up and give some perspective on who these men are.
The San Francisco 8 are former, original Black Panthers, and sympathetic community activists ranging from 56 to 72. Three men were arrested on January 23, 2006 on charges related to the killing of a cop in San Francisco in 1971. The original three were indicted on these charges in the early 70′s and the charges were dropped, because torture was used to extract confessions. I’ll repeat that — and mind you, I’m not using rhetoric: they were tortured in ways analogous to the torture committed by the U.S. abroad, in the so-called “War on Terror.” Six of the defendants, due to intense legal advocacy and community support, are now out on bail awaiting trial– set to start, I believe in the Spring. Two of the defendants are ineligible for bail, as they have been serving a NY state sentence for over 30 years on similar charges. (Some speculate that these men, Jalil Muntaquim and Herman Bell of the NY3 were included in this indictment to destroy their chances of their getting parole in NY state. Parole was a hope given a new governor and perhaps, a parole board would grant parole).
As I said, the charges were thrown out due to torture by investigators– a detailed account of which is presented in the informative documentary Legacy of Torture (available from the Freedom Archives) including cattle prods used on genitals, beatings, sleep deprivation, being taped to chairs and simulated drownings, aka waterboarding. This is the process Attorney General nominee Michael Mukasy will not condemn in which plastic is pulled over someone’s face and water is poured producing the terror associated with drowning. Sometime in 2002, interest was reignited in the case (perhaps after former Attorney General Ashcroft’s statement about cleaning up old political cases) and some of the men received grand jury subpoenas which they resisted and were subsequently jailed for months.
At that point, supporters of the grand-juried men and animal liberation activists facing their own federal grand jury joined forces and held large rallies against the grand jury. The website fbiwitchhunt.com was started and reported on resistance to the grand juries nationwide. This collaboration was exciting and gave me great hope. It was a multi-generational, cross-movement display of solidarity and opened each group to each other’s perspectives.
That dynamic, of older and younger generations from the Black Panther/anti-Vietnam war and people’s movements of the 60s/70s and the younger, anarchistic and eco/animal liberationists mixing and providing mutual aid to each other captivated me. It also reflected work I had been engaged on in NYC with the Jeff Luers freedom campaign working with the Jericho Movement and former political prisoners. (In fact, I wrote about these ideas in the 2008 Freedom for Political Prisoners Calendar, which I highly recommend you get a copy of). My goal then was two-fold:
1)To help secure the release of political prisoners of previous generations by infusing their freedom campaigns with what we have to offer: youthful energy, online tactics and organizing, fundraising, and exposing their cases to a new generation of punks, anarchists, and anti-globalization activists.
2)To learn from older activists– about their experience, access to their lessons and to increase the legitimacy of our prisoners in the broader PP/POW support community.
Many have been working on these efforts and I hope they bear fruit. In NYC, there are good signs including a new NYC Anarchist Black Cross focusing on supporting Green Scare political prisoners and political prisoners from the Black liberation movement. There has been a greater coordination on the part of PP groups in the NYC area, leading to this SF8 event on November 30th.
So, if you are against torture, vindictive prosecutions trying to destroy the legacy of the Black Panthers and think that the Green Scare is COINTELPRO-lite, this is an event you should come to. Some of the defendants will be there as will their lawyer Soffiyah Elijah, and performers. It’s 7pm, on November 30th at the Martin Luther king, Jr. Labor Center, 310 West 43rd Street (between 8th and 9th Avenues).
I’ve used the name “SF8″, but these are real people we are talking about. They are:
*John Bowman died of terminal cancer on December 23, 2006 after being imprisoned for refusing to talk to a grand jury.
For more information:
Regarding the N30 event: NYC Jericho Post Office Box 1272 New York, New York 10013 firstname.lastname@example.org
In a previous blog entry, I mentioned that my support group, Family and Friends of Daniel McGowan, would be participating in the annual Leonard Peltier Gift Drive for the children of the Pine Ridge reservation. I wanted to give you more information about it as well as explain our participation in this initiative. It begins with the case of Leonard Peltier.
Many others can tell this story better (including Leonard himself in his book, Prison Writings: My Life is My Sundance, Peter Matthiesen’s book In the Spirit of Crazy Horse and the film Incident at Oglala). Leonard Peltier is an Anishinabe and Dakota/Lakota Native American political prisoner convicted of killing two FBI agents during an incident on the Oglala reservation. He has been imprisoned more than 30 years despite a massive executive clemency campaign that was expected to be victorious in the mid 1990s. He has written a book and countless articles and poems, become an accomplished artist and continued to be an outspoken advocate for indigenous rights. His case has attracted the attention of human rights groups, people form all over the world and even various foreign governments. Every appeal files by his legal team has either been defeated or been stalled for years due to FBI/government secrecy essentially refusing to hand over documents that would exonerate him. Their latest rationale for refusing to deliver thousands of documents is “national security.”
I first read about the Peltier case in the phenomenal account of U.S. genocide of Native Americans, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown. At the time, I still harbored illusions about justice in the United States and was stunned by the details of Peltier’s case. I write letters to then President Bill Clinton believing my rational arguments combined with the obvious legal problems with this case and the international support would lead to clemency and the eventual release from prison for Leonard Peltier. Well, beliefs die hard and Clinton left office, commuting the sentence of Peltier’s half-brother and leaving him behind bars, my last shred of belief in liberal politics evaporated.
In December 2006, my legal defense crew held a rally in Foley Square which is in downtown Manhattan and close to the FBI headquarters as well as the jail I was held at one year prior when I was first arrested. As it turned out, Leonard Peltier’s lawyers were in court that day on one of his numerous appeals and his supporters rallied outside the hearing and later joined our rally. When I heard that, and my friend Tim’s speech that day, in which he talked about Peltier’s case and his continued opposition to injustice despite 30 years in a maximum security prison, my resolve was strengthened. i knew I would have an opportunity soon to lend some real, concrete solidarity to his freedom campaign and his annual toy drive.
You may wonder, why participate in a toy drive? Our participation in this project, which I find inspiring, is multifaceted. First, more than talking or expressing sentiment about what we believe or who we support, we are choosing an action that has a positive impact on the lives of children on the Pine Ridge Reservation– home of the Lakota Sioux Nation. People on this reservation suffer from intense poverty and have resisted the U.S. government’s conduct on their lands– most notably in the period of time around Leonard Peltier’s arrest. Generations have sacrificed and it is a gesture of solidarity. There is no need to look elsewhere to find children who need help or give funds to some large non-profit who puts more money into fundraising than the children themselves. The toys you buy on our online registry will brighten the holiday season for these children.
Second, we are hoping this project leads to increased “cross pollination” between activists resisting the Green Scare and indigenous resisters. We have significant commonality– support of political prisoners, respect for the planet and a shared fight for social justice– as well as many differences. I believe this cross pollination whereas environmental/animal liberation/anarchist activists can learn about issues affecting indigenous communities and those communities can see we are serious allies who are in it for the long haul and can offer help in campaigns against the destruction of their lands. This isn’t a novel idea and many others have worked on forging these bonds, including those who have helped traditional people at Black Mesa resisting Peabody Coal (the Dineh), eco-activist in British Columbia working with First Nations and mitigating the effects of pushy, top-down environmental NGOs, as well as my co-defendant Bill Rogers who worked on the successful campaign to stop wastewater snow production on the San Francisco Peaks in Arizona.
Finally, despite my own experience with the federal legal system and knowing they won’t ever budge without a fight, I still maintain hope in the campaign to free Leonard Peltier. I hope this to drive can be one small contribution to this effort. So this year, I am asking that you help make this project a success. If you already buy gifts for your family and/or friends, I’m asking that you buy one or two more. Here’s how:
*Our goal is to get toys (and clothes) for children of all ages, including teenagers, so please mix up the age-appropriateness of the gifts if you can.
*We have done our best to avoid war/militaristic and ecologically destructive toys like bulldozers, et cetera.
*It is important that you do this soon. The gifts need to be shipped so they get to Texas by December 10th and then to Pine Ridge on December 24th.
*If you have any questions or problems with the ordering on the sites, feel free to e-mail my crew at email@example.com
Thanks so much for your help in making this project a success.