Daniel McGowan
Daniel McGowan
Daniel McGowan
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Archive for January, 2008

Winter in Sandstone

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2008

It has been a while since I have sent out an update on life here at FCI Sandstone. Part of the reason for that is my life is pretty boring and I’d hate to bore you with the details – invariably, anything on the outside sounds great compared to the mundane days here! I did want to thank everyone who has written me these past couple of months and assure you that even if you don’t get a response, I do read each and every letter or postcard (more than once). The amount of letters and my other responsibilities (as well as my sore thumb from writing too much!) prevents me from responding to everyone. It is a great feeling to stand there at mail call every day and receive all these letters – with tales from the outside and news, both good and bad. I’d like to especially thank everyone who sent me cards around the holidays – which, as you may know, is a hard time for most prisoners.

Most of my letters inquire about how I’m doing. It’s a complicated answer, of course. For starters, I’m really busy working my job as an orderly 6 hours a day, working hard on my Master’s degree, working out and taking many of the classes the prison offers (such as German I or Job Skills). If anything, my time is going fast as I’ve established quite a busy routine. In here, routine is your friend. On another level, life is deeply frustrating as I watch from the sidelines as the atrocities of normalcy persist – our country’s occupation of nations far away, continued exploitation of ecosystems and every other form of life on this planet and the myopic and ‘ostrich’s head in the sand’ approach of many in our society to these issues. Cooperating codefendants in my case refuse to take real accountability for their actions choosing to instead minimized their collusion and instead point fingers at those who made significantly different choices than they did. That, I’ll address at another time, though.

My friends have been great about keeping me updated on what is going on outside in our movement(s) and society, in general. I cherish my updates on other political prisoners, environmental campaigns and the continuing developments in “Green Scare” cases. With that information though, comes the constant reminder that I am here, not out there, and my advocacy is limited to writing. One organization I am continually impressed by is the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society who is presently (as of this letter) in the Antarctic Whale Sanctuary attempting to disrupt the pirate whalers of Japan (perhaps, ‘poach’ is the better term considering a sadly voluntary moratorium on whaling since 1986. Japan, along with Iceland, Norway and a few small island nations continue to support this slaughter of highly intelligent and sentient marine mammals). This year, there has been much drama including Japan’s refusal to release two Sea Shepherd crew members who boarded their ship with a declaration condemning Japan’s poaching. Like last year, the Greenpeace ship, Esperanza, is there documenting the kill, taking photos for their lucrative direct mail campaign but as per usual, refusing to cooperate with Sea Shepherd in any way, including the sharing of coordinates. Oh my, Greenpeace – what have you become? The fight to protect Antarctic’s whales may be over by the time you read this but please check out their website and consider donating, or even better, crewing with them.

So, reading accounts of direct action against whaling and local initiatives in my home town of Brooklyn makes me itchy but I’m throwing myself into my studies and writing with renewed vigor. I have been happy to see so many other political prisoners writing publicly these days. Specifically, my codefendant and some of the Shac 7 defendants who, like me, have a blog and similar website names. Additionally, the Earth First! Journal has consistently published political prisoner writings lately focusing largely on the variety and differences of the prison experience. While I enjoy hearing all of these responses, I specifically hope to hear more from my codefendants on the debates surrounding my case and the cooperation of so many people.

Overall, I’m doing well and dealing with the cold (it hit -5 degrees last week!). Luckily, I am provided for very well by my family and friends and my stacks of books, magazines and my frequent visits are a testament to that fact. Thank you again for all of your letters and support. Please continue to support the Green Scare defendants and all political prisoners especially in the next month when we see Jeff Luers and Eric McDavid‘s sentencings and the start of Briana Waters‘ trial in February.