It is Friday and that means I try to bring you something about political prisoners. Why do I do this? Any number of reasons come to mind, but I will give you three.
One, I once was a political prisoner and I know how important support from the outside is to a person locked up.
Two, anyone who is a serious leftist activist of any kind always must understand that there are risks involved. When the State decides you are a threat, it acts in its interest. The Empire doesn't like to be challenged. Consequently, there but for the grace of god, as they say, go you. It doesn't matter if you are guilty or innocent of this or that law, it doesn't matter if what is said about you is true or a lie It doesn't matter if someone is offering testimony in exchange for their own skin or for money. None of that matters. If they want you, they'll come for you.
Three, these people, these prisoners, even the one's whose ideology we may not hold dear, or whose actions we may have disagreements with, the ones I post about here, are on our side, have acted on behalf of the exploited and oppressed in a desire to create a new world free of injustice and servitude. We can't just leave these fallen soldiers of our behind.
That said, the following comes from June 11th.org.
June 11: International Day of Solidarity with Long-Term Anarchist Prisoners (USA, Worldwide)
Everywhere that there exists dynamic struggle against the state and capitalism, there is some degree of repression. Capitalism knows well how to protect its interests, and it entails targeting and eradicating those who challenge it’s dominance. While we continue our daily struggle against this monster, we also fight to make sure our friends and comrades who have been imprisoned by the state aren’t forgotten, that their material and emotional needs are taken care of, and that they remain connected to the movements that they have been forcibly yanked away from.
The cases of Marie and Eric appear fundamentally different at first glance. We choose to connect them in the context of June 11th, not only because of their similar sentences and the fact that they both remained incredibly strong in the face of intense harassment, but also to highlight and analyze the U.S. government’s multi-faceted strategy of repression.
Marie Mason was arrested in 2008 after more than 30 years of both above ground and clandestine organizing and action. She has been involved in both environmental and labor struggles, edited many radical publications, and was involved in water rights, anti-infrastructure and anti-logging and development projects in the Midwestern United States. She had already been subjected to years of FBI harassment when she was indicted for a string of Earth Liberation Front (E.L.F.) arsons that had occurred in 1999 and 2000. Her indictment was only possible due to the collaboration her ex-husband, Frank Ambrose, with the FBI. Due to continuing expenses, pressure and threats of a life sentence in prison, she took a non-cooperating plea deal that recommended her for 15-20 years. Citing her actions and her unwillingness to collaborate, the State turned on its word and sentenced her to nearly 23 years. Since being incarcerated, she has suffered health problems and has had many difficulties accessing vegan food, has been harassed and threatened constantly and has been re-located to a prison in Texas, nearly 2000 km away from her family, or, approximately the distance between Barcelona and Berlin. In the special “medical” unit she is currently held captive in, correspondence with the outside world is extremely controlled; her conditions can be likened to a Communications Management Unit in the U.S. or the FIES units in Spain. Some of her supporters and her family are still attempting to pursue legal means of reducing her sentence, but judicial avenues seem to be thoroughly exhausted at this point.
Eric McDavid, on the other hand, is a young anarchist who was arrested for committing no action except thoughtcrime. In 2005 he was befriended by a young girl named Anna who apparently shared his passion for taking action in defense of the environment. However, “Anna” was actually a government informant, paid over $65,000 to infiltrate the anarchist and radical environmentalist scenes to entrap people.
Anna heavily pressured Eric and two friends, Lauren and Zachary, to take action, and even went as far as to pay for renting a remote cabin in the woods where they could practice making bombs. The cabin was filled with hidden recording devices and cameras, and was funded by the FBI, who also paid for the transportation, bomb materials and provided bomb recipes. When the government felt that they had gathered enough information, they swooped in and arrested Eric, Lauren and Zach. At this point, no actions had been carried out. Lauren and Zach, under pressure from both the state and their families, collaborated with the government, while Eric remained strong and did not. His case went to trial and he was convicted and sentenced to 20 years in prison. Although jurors in the trial later stated that they didn’t understand the case and didn’t think the trial was fair, all of Eric’s appeals have failed.
We don’t encourage solidarity on the basis of long-term sentences because we believe in a possibility for a reasonable or fair sentence for any prisoner (though both Marie’s and Eric’s 20+ year sentences are well in excess of the sentencing guidelines for their so-called crimes.) We focus on the longevity of their sentences because, whatever the circumstances of their arrest, the government is using these lengthy sentences to send a message, and to scare broadening circles of people into compliance and fear. By locking Eric and Marie up for decades, the state wishes to erase them. If, minimally, once a year, our comrades names are shouted from the rooftops and written on the walls, our enemies will have not fully succeeded in this sinister task. Of course we’re reminded of the absence of our comrades daily, but we hope that this yearly day of solidarity can be a starting point for keeping them the minds of a greater number of people more regularly.
Last year, events and actions occurred in over 30 cities across the U.S. and internationally. We were impressed by the expressions of solidarity, from a public noise demonstrations and events across the US to fundraiser dinner shows in Israel, and actions of sabotage from as far away as Russia and Peru. (A dossier of actions from last year, as well as information and material for this year are available at http://june11.org).
The heyday of the E.L.F. in the United States is over. We’re moving into a dynamic period of growing social antagonism, and need to make sure that prisoners such as Marie and Eric aren’t left behind or forgotten. Solidarity for them should not be relegated to prisoner support specialists or those who knew them personally – their absence is of importance to all of us, and support for them should be generalized.
The struggle to free Marie, Eric and others is the struggle against the society that not only creates and maintains prisons, but also commits the environmental devastation that Marie and Eric raged against.
To other comrades facing or serving long term imprisonment: we send warm greetings to Eat and Billy, undergoing trial in Indonesia for acts of sabotage; imprisoned members ofConspiracy Cells of Fire and Revolutionary Struggle in Greece; Billy, Costas and Silvia in Swizerland; Tortuga, Freddy, Marcelo and Juan in Chile and all those implicated in the Caso Bombas; All other non-cooperating Green Scare defendants in the U.S., some of whom are about to be released: Daniel McGowan, Sadie, Exile, Jonathan Paul and the recently re-captured Justin Solondz. These are just a small sampling of cases, but unfortunately we could go on and on. We have no definition for what “long term” imprisonment could mean – every moment the state steals our loved ones away from us is too long.
Organize an event or action on June 11th, this year and every year. Let’s fight together, for the destruction of this prison society and to help remind our comrades they’re never alone!
June 11th began as an international day of solidarity with long-term anarchist prisoner Jeff "Free" Luers in 2004. At the time, Jeff was serving 22+ years. Infuriated by the environmental devastation he saw occurring on a global scale, Jeff torched three SUVs at a car dealership in Eugene, OR. The sentence imposed on him was meant to send a clear message to others who were angered by capitalism's continued war on the Earth's ecosystems – and to those who were willing to take action to put a stop to it. Jeff is, after all, not alone in his concerns about climate change, fossil fuels, pollution and genetically modified organisms.
After years of struggle, Jeff and his legal team won a reduction in his sentence and he was released from prison in December 2009. But in the years intervening Jeff's arrest and release, the FBI had carried out a series of indictments and arrests in an attempt to devastate the radical environmental and anarchist communities. Two of the people caught up in this maelstrom of repression were Eric McDavid and Marie Mason.
Eric McDavid was arrested in January 2006 after being entrapped by a paid government informant - "Anna" - and was charged with a single count of conspiracy. Eric – who never carried out any actions and was accused of what amounts to “thought crime” - refused to cooperate with the state and took his case to trial. After a trial fraught with errors, the jury convicted Eric. He was subsequently sentenced to almost 20 years in prison. More information on Eric's case can be found at www.supporteric.org
Marie Mason was arrested in March 2008 after her former partner - Frank Ambrose - turned informant for the FBI. Facing a life sentence if she went to trial, Marie accepted a plea bargain in September 2008, admitting her involvement in the burning of an office connected to GMO research and the destruction of a piece of logging equipment. At her sentencing in February the following year, she received a sentence of almost 22 years. More information on Marie's case can be found at www.supportmariemason.org
Marie Mason and Eric McDavid share the unfortunate distinction of having the longest standing sentences of any environmental prisoners in the United States. Please join us in an international day of solidarity with Marie Mason, Eric McDavid, and other long-term anarchist prisoners on every June 11th. This is a time to remember our friends who are in prison – who are continuing their struggles on the inside. This is a time to continue and strengthen the very work for which Eric and Marie are now serving so much time - to struggle against capitalism, ecological devastation, and the ever more diffuse forms of control in this prison society.
Free Marie and Eric! Free all prisoners!
confirmed events for 2012
(more info about each event will appear as it's sent in)
Louisville, KY--a showing of "If A Tree Falls" and a chili dinner.Memphis, TN--a showing of "Attica", a talk by Lorenzo Kom'boa Ervin, letter-writing, and refreshments. Donations will be split between Sundiata Acoli and Marie Mason. Facebook event here
.Evansville, IN--a community picnic and info session.
Minneapolis, MN--a microphone demo!
St Louis, MO-- a benefit show, dance party, dinner and discussion on June 9th at the Boulder space. All money collected going to prisoner support.
New York City, NY-- punk rock kareoke benefiting Marie and Eric. Facebook event here. " Along with the NYC Anarchist Black Cross, Punk Rock Karaoke Chicago will be hosting their first ever night in NYC! We'll be throwing down for Marie Mason, Eric McDavid, and other long-term anarchist prisoners in honor of the annual June 11th International Day of Solidarity. Every penny raised will go directly towards support efforts for Marie, Eric and others. Come out and support our prisoners by shelling out some cash and singing your heart out to one-of-a-kind punk rock karaoke tracks! Seriously, it is a win/win. Monday, June 11th 8pm - midnight (8pm sharp! Not punk time.) Fontana's Bar (105 Eldridge Street, Manhattan) $7 donation 21+ (SORRY!)"
Guelph, Ontario--public information and letterwriting night on June 4th.Portland, OR--all stores in the vegan mini mall are donating 10% of their profits to Marie and Eric on June 11th. Facebook event here, awesome video to promote the event here.
Salt Lake City, Utah--Afternoon: a family friendly activity in the park featuring a mini carnival (game booths, face painting, three-legged 'Mutual Aid' race, etc.) with vegan food and refreshments for donations. Evening: punk rock show with performances by local political bands. Possible fire juggling display.
Philadelphia, PA--on Saturday, June 9th, 50% of all sales from the Wooden Shoe (704 South St) 50% of all sales will go to Marie and Eric. That evening at 6pm, there's a benefit show at the LAVA Space, located at 4134 Lancaster. Peregrine, Cop Problem, Dying, and one band TBA are playing.
Washington, DC-- an ice cream social on June 11th, from 6pm to 9pm at 1213 Delafield Pl NW. $10-20 suggested donation, all proceeds to Marie and Eric. "There will be homemade ice cream, cookies, and caramel sauce as well as a variety of other toppings. We're talking sundaes, milkshakes, and ice cream sandwiches! There will even be sandwiches from Sticky Fingers." Facebook eventhere.
Houston, TXGrand Rapids, MIMakassar, Sulawesi, IndonesiaJogjakarta, Java, IndonesiaAsheville, NCBloomington, INSacramento, CAOlympia, WALawrence, KSEugene, OR