Retiring "Free Marcia Powell"
Thanks for visiting. Peace out - Peg.
Monday, November 30, 2009
I expect to be up researching and blogging awhile tonight - Tuesday is World AIDS Day, and I want to get plenty of stuff out there about HIV/AIDS (and Hep C) in prisons and jails in America. It's a pretty dismal, shameful scene we've got here - though I know there are some folks trying to do good work in prisons on health care - AIDS in particular - and I'll find a few things about them to post, too. After all that, I'll get some rest then share some photos from this evening celebrating the First Amendment while protesting Sheriff Joe Arpaio at the Cronkite School of Journalism.
Let's just say now that all I brought with me from my action pack was chalk - lots of it, in many bold and lovely colors.
What an amazing crowd we were tonight. You know, folks, this movement's been rolling for awhile and it's picking up speed, so you better jump on if you're moving forward with us. From Puente to peace activists to copwatchers, and from union members and anarchists to "ordinary" Arizonans offended and outraged at how they're being represented, the Anti-Arpaio crowd is one of the most culturally diverse groups I've ever been a part of - it's all about cross movement solidarity, you know...
Don't believe those Rasmussen polls, America, about that man becoming our next Governor, by the way. They didn't ask any of us what we think.
More on all that later...
Thursday, November 26, 2009
"At the dawn of Industrialism, factories were modeled after prisons.
Monday, November 23, 2009
Well, got a little closer to the action with my chalk today, and really pissed off the guy who does security or something for the legislature.
Governor Brewer: Prisoners have families, too.
Sunday, November 22, 2009
(Saturday, November 21, 2009)
This is heartbreaking. Someone I love could have easily been killed this way if the cops dealing with him didn't exercise considerable restraint and compassion. I guess I could be, myself. I don't know what the entire context here was - even the part I cut out doesn't tell the whole story of what these cops were looking at, and how they dealt with it, so that's not necessarily a judgment.
This is, however: If we lock people away from their families for any period of time - especially at such extraordinary cost - we need do a better job helping them deal with their addictions and mental illnesses, too. In the meantime, there has to be a better way of getting people in for mental health services when they're like this than tasering, arresting or re-incarcerating them...
Us, rather. I meant to say "us." I do that dissociative thing with "them" too often, so I'm stating it more clearly: We are human beings, too, with hopes and frailties, most of us longing for some kind of connection - even if we seem pretty out there. We are the people everyone's so afraid of all the time: addicted, poor and crazy. I'm out there, too, getting into cops' faces no matter how hard I try not to. That doesn't mean I'll resort to violence, though - or need to be controlled with force. Even so, please ask people to be more gentle with us. We're always out-numbered and out-gunned (and usually in cages or handcuffs) when this kind of thing happens.
None of that should come as a surprise to people who know me; I got out on this limb here awhile ago, and didn't really "choose" it. I have very little to lose at this point in my life, and a great deal at stake in how our community works this kind of thing out - in whether or not we collectively wring our hands and walk away from all this now. Whether or not I speak up or act out, I'm going to end up in deep trouble with whomever wins the election if we - not the politicians - don't take responsibility for doing right by people caught up at all points (as victims and "criminals") in our system of justice.
That's where the change has to come from first: the hearts and minds of the folks who make up the community. Until then, people like me will just keep dying like this guy and Marcia did - as tragic, passing thoughts.
I'm too tired for much more than this tonight.
Drugs, Taser hit, heat may have led to man's death
by Nathan Gonzalez - Nov. 20, 2009 01:51 PM
The Arizona Republic
Three months after being released from an Arizona prison after serving time on drug and robbery charges, Francisco Pelayo Sesate hoped a move near his two daughters in Nebraska would be enough to turn his life around.
Instead, a combination of drugs, physical exertion and two five-second blasts from Mesa police officer's Taser at a Quick Trip convenience store Aug. 20 may have ultimately caused the 36-year-old's death.
A newly released police report details the Sesate's final hours as he stripped naked and created a wild disturbance in a convenience store parking lot.
Doctors who treated him at Banner Desert Medical Center said the combination of drugs in Sesate's system, the blasts from the Taser and his 108-degree body temperature meant his organs were "basically cooking inside his body."
A toxicology report revealed Sesate had opiates, amphetamines and cocaine in his system when he died on Aug. 20...
(continue at the AZ Republic)
...After Sesate shoved the second officer, Riordan fired his Taser, hitting Francisco Sesate in the chest. Cell phone video shot by customer inside the store captured the man falling through the business' front door and onto the ground.
The video, which was uploaded to YouTube, shows the officers struggling with Sesate on the floor as they attempt to handcuff both hands. When the man refused to place both hands behind his back, Riordan fired his Taser a second time.
Police successfully handcuffed the man, but he began kicking at the officers. They then restrained his feet.
"After Francisco was rolled over on his right side, I noticed that Francisco appeared not to be responsive or breathing," a police report states. The handcuffs were removed and police began CPR.
EMS crews were already en route and took Sesate to Banner Desert Hospital where he remained in critical condition and on a ventilator for seven hours until he was pronounced dead.
Doctors told police his heart was beating 180 times per minute, and he was experiencing multi-organ failure.
Detective Steve Berry, a police spokesman, said it's department policy to investigate incidents where an officer's use of force resulted in death. That investigation remains ongoing, and a final use of force report has not yet completed.
Friday, November 20, 2009
Friday, November 20, 2009
Dear Arizona State Legislators;
This to let you know that there are more than a few voices out here in support of early release for low-risk prisoners as one of the current budget-cutting proposals. Many of those voices belong to members of prisoners' families and communities. We are especially concerned about elderly, disabled, and terminally ill prisoners, but there are some children who would love to see their healthy folks home for the holidays, too.
We want our legislators and public officals to remember that not all prisoners are "bad people", and that their punishments affect more than themselves alone - as would an act of grace. When you decide what to do with them - how you punish them, for how long, and under what kinds of conditions - think of them not only as "criminals", but as mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, sons and daughters and friends to many of us.
Some of us have been agitating for awhile about lengthy sentences, the Department of Corrections' health services and mental health care, and deteriorating prison conditions. Others are just getting organized. Between us, it doesn't look like we can count on many legislators to go out on a limb on behalf of our loved ones. So, stand with us, feel free to follow along, or move out of the way, because there's a lot we'll need to be talking about in the coming year, and there's no gettting around all of us. We don't care what party a senator or representative is with: there are a lot of problems with the criminal justice system, and you can be "tough on crime" without being so tough us. We've been hurt, too.
"Sunbelt Justice" by UC-Irvine Professor Mona Lynch provides a good foundation for understanding the issues we'll be raising with public officials in constituent meetings, at the Capitol when the legislature re-convenes, and throughout the 2010 political campaign season. Professor Lynch will be in Tempe on December 2, speaking about her research into the history of the Arizona DOC and the potential turning point we find ourselves at. Your appearance would be a show of interest and perhaps support, but your voices and votes are what we'll be paying most attention to.
In the meantime, as you deliberate the budget crisis this weekend, please give your consideration the human aspects of authorizing an early release program. Look into the research about crime and punishment. Prison over-crowding alone takes a toll, stressing everyone from prisoners with physical and mental health conditions to corrections officers whose safety is placed at greater risk.
There are also simply more effective ways to deal with things like alcoholism or the absolute desperation of poverty than long-term incarceration. Many of these interventions would help our families, and protect our communities from further harm in the long run. We are sure Director Ryan can develop a good list of low-risk prisoners to consider for early release to community supervison, and redirect Arizona Department of Corrections' resources appropriately.
Thank you for your time.
Friends of Marcia Powell
"Our strategy should be not only to confront empire, but to lay siege to it.
To deprive it of oxygen.
To shame it.
To mock it.
With our art, our music, our literature,
our stubbornness, our joy, our brilliance,
our sheer relentlessness,
and our ability to tell our own stories..."
- Arundhati Roy
Thursday, November 19, 2009
This poor guy had the job of cleaning up after us once already this morning, and now had to do it again. As he approached my masterpiece he said quietly, without looking up: "I hope you appreciate the irony of what I'm about to do." Then he smiled.
I didn't want to get him into trouble by talking to him, so we kept it short and sweet. When I apologized for the mess I told him there are more people than me working on this, and he thanked us all for our support and solidarity. He was pretty touched. It helps prisoners a lot to know there are people in the community who care what happens to them, even though we may be strangers. It validates that regardless of their guilt or crime we at least recognize their humanity, and will defend certain basic rights.
So, when you're doing stuff and taking pictures, imagine being a prisoner getting a postcard with a photo of your action on it. It may make them laugh, smile, or maybe even cry, but it should tell them that they and their families are not alone in this.
I'll have more on this morning when I get my 35mm roll developed, but that's the main thing I wanted to share for now. Oh, yeah - and a shout out to Timothy with the Grounds Department.
Here's the link to the house, and the senate. No excuses. Find your lawmakers. Put them to work on early prisoner releases and decreasing overcrowding: everything else we'll deal with after this budget package is done. It seems appropriate to suggest that money saved by these actions could minimize cuts to other things, like schools. Ask them to check into whether or not the compassionate release requests have been met; last I heard they've been stalled awhile for political reasons, which means we need to generate inquiries.
Below is Doug Kilgore's AEA Legislative update.
The Senate Republican Caucus consists of 18 Senators. The 30 member Senate requires 16 votes to pass a bill.
With Senator Barbara Leff out of the country and Senator Ron Gould publicly opposed to the budget deal, Senate President Bob Burns had to count on every other Republican Senator to attend today's final vote on the budget and vote yes. It didn't happen.
Senator Thayer Verschoor (R - Gilbert) did not show up and could not be found. SB 1001 failed on a vote of 12 No, 14 Yes, and 4 Not Voting.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Gray changed his yes vote to no for the purpose of reconsideration on Monday, May 23.
The budget deal brokered by Governor Brewer, Senate President Bob Burns, and House Speaker Kirk Adams has stalled.
Without confirmation that the Senate would pass the budget, House Speaker Adams decided to adjourn the House until Monday at 1:30 p.m. after learning the Senate failed to pass SB 1001 and had adjourned until Monday at 10:00 a.m.
The Senate did not even vote on SB 1002 which included specifics on the $144 million in cuts to K-12 education and $155 million in cuts to the Department of Economic Security.
Two of the four budget bills did pass the Senate by wide margins with bipartisan support. These bills helped resolve an issue related to home mortgages and state agency budgets and fees.
Democrats refused to support the defeated bills because of the deep cuts to public schools and DES without any consideration of additional revenue.
It is unclear if there will be enough support on Monday to pass the budget.
In the interim there are sure to be attempts to offer deals to Democrats and pressure Senator Verschoor to support this devastating budget deal.
Observers of the budget process have seen this scenario before, and it does not serve the interests our state's citizens. With a budget deficit of over $2 billion dollars this year and nearly double that for the next year, it is time for a change of strategy.
It is time for a bipartisan budget process the focuses on a comprehensive solution that includes a mix of new revenue streams, targeted and limited cuts, and borrowing.
The AEA, along with the broad coalition of parents, social service advocates, and others are ready to work with Republican and Democratic legislators willing to work together on a solution that moves Arizona forward.
New face of vandalism?
By Gersh Kuntzman
The Brooklyn Paper
October 13, 2007
Perspective / The Brooklyn Angle
The Brooklyn Paper / Julie Rosenberg
Six-year-old Natalie Shea got a threatening letter from the city demanding the removal of “graffiti” she drew with chalk — with chalk!— on her front step. Here, Shea shows her defiance to the warning letter by creating a new work with the supposedly illegal medium.
Natalie Shea with her warning letter and the alleged graffiti.
A 6-year-old Park Slope girl is facing a $300 fine from the city for doing what city kids have been doing for decades: drawing a pretty picture with common sidewalk chalk.
Obviously not all of Natalie Shea’s 10th Street neighbors thought her blue chalk splotch was her best work — a neighbor called 311 to report the “graffiti,” and the Department of Sanitation quickly sent a standard letter to Natalie’s mom, Jen Pepperman.
Can somebody stop these bureaucrats before they Kafka again?
“PLEASE REMOVE THE GRAFFITI FROM YOUR PROPERTY,” the Sanitation Department warning letter read. “FAILURE TO COMPLY … MAY RESULT IN ENFORCEMENT ACTION AGAINST YOU.”
Since when is a kid’s chalk drawing “graffiti”? Since the City Council passed local law 111 in 2005, which defined “graffiti” as “any letter, word, name, number, symbol, slogan, message, drawing, picture, writing … that is drawn, painted, chiseled, scratched, or etched on a commercial building or residential building.”
In other words, Natalie Shea is not an artistic little girl, but a graffiti scofflaw?
“He could have just asked!” Pepperman said. “This whole thing is ridiculous. Admittedly, this drawing was not her best work — she usually sticks to cheerful scenes, not abstracts, frankly — but to send a warning letter like that is outrageous.”
Pepperman ticked off any number of daily insults to common decency on her block, including (but not limited to) dog poop, garbage from ill-kept homes, and noise from car alarms. But Sanitation didn’t get a 311 call about those indignities. It got a call about a 6-year-old’s drawing.
“The report came in as ‘graffiti,’ and, as you know, the city is trying to crack down on graffiti on private property,” said agency spokeswoman Cathy Dawkins.
For sidewalk chalk that would dissolve at the first rain? Dawkins said the law is on her agency’s side.
“The instrument used — whether it’s paint or chalk — does not matter,” she said.
But if Dawkins is right, than the city has just criminalized hopscotch or drawing arrows to point neighbors towards a stoop sale down the block — as long as a neighbor calls 311 to complain.
In reality, chalkers have little reason to start using invisible ink. The city’s pre-eminent sidewalk chalk illustrator, Ellis Gallagher, says he’s outlining street furniture and other objects for years and never been arrested.
“Cops stop me all the time when they see me drawing on the sidewalk, but once they see it’s just chalk, they always let me go,” said Gallagher, a Carroll Gardens resident (see his work at www.myspace.com/ellis_gee).
Gallagher believes that, despite local law 111, drawing in chalk is not illegal. But a call to the NYPD revealed that there’s a lot of gray area. (UPDATE: Gallagher arrested for chalk drawing. [nydailynews.com])
“According the New York penal law, graffiti is the etching, painting, covering, drawing or otherwise placing of a mark upon public or private property with intent to damage such property,” said an NYPD spokesman.
When pressed to define “intent” or, for that matter, “damage,” the spokesman added: “If it can be washed away, it’s not graffiti, clearly, but it still could be criminal mischief. If I cover your car with mustard, that’s not graffiti, but it’s also not legal.”
Pepperman is holding firm that her daughter is a pretty artist and not a petty criminal.
And for his part, Natalie’s father, George Shea, hoped that his daughter wouldn’t learn the wrong lesson from her “graffiti” crime wave.
“I do love that kid,” Shea said, “but I wish she would stop capping my tags.”
Gersh Kuntzman is the Editor of The Brooklyn Paper.
E-mail Gersh at firstname.lastname@example.org
©2007 The Brooklyn Paper
Anway, I'll post my blog and photos on all that shortly. I think we need more clarification about whether or not chalking sidewalks on public or state property constitutes criminal activity in Phoenix, so I'll keep researching this tonight and post with what more I find. I know I can be charged with pretty much anything, but drop me a line if anyone out there knows if you can really be convicted (criminal or civil) for using sidewalk chalk.
University of Arizona
Outrage at U. Arizona artist arrest intensifies
» September 28th
Students upset by University of Arizona Police Department’s arrest of Jacob Miller, a 24-year-old graduate student who used sidewalk chalk to advertise a protest Thursday, have been speaking out on campus and online.
On Facebook.com, a group called Support Jacob Miller started Friday and had grown to 172 members by press time Sunday.
The group’s founder, Tom Shea, is a biochemistry junior who decided to start the group after reading about Miller’s arrest in the Arizona Daily Wildcat.
Shea, who doesn’t know Miller and couldn’t even find him on Facebook, said, “I was completely outraged by what I read in the article.”
Shea is trying to organize an online petition and a protest on Miller’s court date.
“(This arrest) can be compared to being arrested for playing hopscotch or finger-painting,” he said. “The entire idea behind chalk as a medium is that it does no damage and is easily removed. It’s not something akin to spray paint or graffiti—it’s quite the opposite.”
On the Daily Wildcat’s Web site, readers are also talking. Many were upset by the university’s initial claim that it cost $1,000 to clean the chalk from sidewalks and walls.
UA officials have since backed off their initial estimate.
Chris Kopach, associate director of facilities management said the actual figure is closer to $350.
Kopach said $1,000 was the initial approximate estimate, before he knew the writing was in chalk.
Anne Ranek, a graduate student and member of Arizona for Education, the group that organized Thursday’s protest, said she was excited by the amount of support Miller is getting from undergraduates who probably don’t know him.
Dave Talenfeld, president of the Graduate Professional Student Council, told the Wildcat the arrest was “very silly.”
Talenfeld said the anonymous faculty member who reported the chalk probably had a problem with the content, not the medium, of the message.
“I would not be surprised to learn that political considerations were involved,” he said.
UAPD spokesman Sgt. Juan Alvarez said he hasn’t received any comments about the case and declined to comment on the ongoing investigation.
Miller, at his lawyer’s request, declined to comment on the matter any further.
His lawyer, Cornelia Honchar, said she found it surprising that a student would be charged with criminal damage, because the crime “seems so banal.”
“He’s also charged with disrupting the operations of a university,” she said. “So we’ll see how a campus of 35,000 or 40,000 was interrupted by Jacob Miller drawing something on the student union sidewalk.”
Hank Dean Stephenson – Copyright © 2009 Arizona Daily Wildcat via UWire
Read more: Outrage at U. Arizona artist arrest intensifies - StateUniversity.com News http://www.stateuniversity.com/news_items/1676#ixzz0XMdHxD9S
Quick post because we're heading to the capitol this AM (shh!). We have no photos from Tuesday, but these are from yesterday (weds?). Cops were all over me when I was at the House but no one seemed to mind how much we chalked as long as we stayed on that side of the street (we weren't ticketed or arrested, anyway, so I figured chalk must be okay. I think we're about to find out, since this may constitute a confession...as well as a lack of criminal intent, I hope.)
In any event, here goes...
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
AZ news radio station links are at this link;
AZ TV station links are here;
And Third World Traveler has the best progresssive media links (from ).
Please add more as you find them.
Special session to hammer out Arizona budget begins
Reported by: Dave Biscobing
Last Update: 11/17 7:26 pm
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
“DUEL IN THE DESERT” REMATCH
between Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and MC Attorney Andy Thomas. 6-9 pm, Nov. 21 at Pinnacle Peak Steakhouse, 10426 E Jomax Road , Scottsdale . Top Sirloin Steak or Chicken. Dinner Tickets: Single $50 - Couple $75. RSVP: Maricopa County Republican Committee Office, 10050 W Bell Rd, Suite 49 , Sun City , AZ 85351 . Or by call (623) 977-4532 or MCRCwest@cox.net
Friday, November 13, 2009
"Sex Workers Outreach Project-USA is a national social justice network dedicated to the fundamental human rights of sex workers and their communities, focusing on ending violence and stigma through education and advocacy."
I've been dying to talk about this, and the official notice just came from SWOP today. I think the protest was originally going to be out at the prison, but I'm sure there were logistical and security issues, so it'll be at Director Ryan's door, instead. Just as good. We need to be there in Tucson Thursday, Dec 17 supporting the actions there, and turn out in force with these women in Phoenix on Friday, Dec 18.
I need an early count of who's on board with this, folks, so email me and let me know how many people you think you'll bring to which events, if you have room and time to help drive folks to or from Tucson, or if you need a place to crash there - let me know, or contact the Tucson SWOP directly. In the meantime, I'll find out more about what we can do to support these actions.
Sex Worker’s Outreach Project - Tucson www.swop-tucson.org
Please Join Us December 17, 2009 for the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers Event in Tucson, Arizona!
November 11, 2009
Dear Friends & Supporters of Sex Worker’s Rights:
In 2009, sex workers from around the globe met gruesome deaths and endured unspeakable violence. Some died at the hands of a solitary perpetrator; others were victims of serialprostitute killers. While some of these horrific stories received international media attention ( Boston, Grand Rapids, Albuquerque, Tijuana , Hong Kong , Moscow , Great Britain ,Cape Town , New Zealand ), other cases received little more than a perfunctory investigation. Many cases remain unresolved, sometimes forever.
In fact, most violent crimes against sex workers remain unreported. Stigma and decriminalization facilitate this violence; when sex work is criminalized, prostitutes can't turn to the police for protection without risking prosecution themselves. Sex workers remain one of the largest marginalized populations in existence without the benefit of the basic civil rights that everyone else takes for granted.
Each year, December 17th marks the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers. Last year’s event in Washington, D.C. was a big success and this year, sex workers and their allies from across the U.S. will gather together in Tucson, Arizona to remember and honor sex workers who have been victimized by virtue of their chosen profession - including rape, assault and murder.
You are invited to join us on December 17, 2009 in Tucson, Arizona to honor the memories of the fallen. (A schedule of events is at the end of this letter). This year is especially poignant for us in Arizona because in May, 2009, Marcia Powell, an inmate at the Perryville women’s prison outside of Phoenix who was serving 27 months for prostitution, died when she was left outside in a holding cage in 107 degree heat without shade, food or water. Marcia Powell’s death is not only a travesty of justice and a failure of the prison system, but of the unjust laws which continue to oppress sex workers everywhere. We are outraged and saddened by both the loss of freedom and of lives, and we ask for your participation in putting an end to the violence.
Here’s How You Can Help
Please join us in honoring sex workers who have fallen victim to the travesties of violence and injustice. You can:
Attend the IDEVASW event in Tucson, Arizona on December 17th; we have plenty of resources for free housing and transportation.
If you can’t join us in Tucson, organize your own IDEVASW event in your hometown.
If you’re a business who’d like to help the Tucson event by sponsorship, please contact email@example.com. We need both money and volunteers.
Circulate this letter to your own listservs and use social media to get the word out - blog about this, add this letter to your website, Twitter, Facebook, Myspace, etc.
Donate to the Sex Workers Outreach Project. Visit http://swop-usa.org to find out more (the post about the protest is from last year though - you need to go to SWOP-Tucson).
If silence is the voice of complicity, then your presence in Arizona on December 17th would be a powerful message for justice to be heard across the world. Thank you.
Sex Workers Outreach Project - USA Sex Workers Outreach Project -Tucson
For more event information, please visit: http://swop-tucson.org
IDEVASW Event Schedule - Tucson, Arizona
Volunteers are still needed – please contact firstname.lastname@example.org !
December 17, 2009
5:00 – 6:00 p.m. “No Human Involved” Event El Presidio Park, 160 West Alameda Street, Tucson, AZ. Performance art/art installation with the theme, “No Human Involved.” The central image will be a physical representation of the Perryville Prison which will honor Marcia Powell and sex workers everywhere who have been victims of violence; a performance piece/die-in and live music.
6:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m. “Remembrance Memorial” El Tiradito Shrine, 354 South Main Avenue, Tucson, AZ. Join us in remembering and honoring sex workers who have been victims of violence. Live music, performance poetry, ritual, candlelight vigil and refreshments. El Tiradito is a national historic shrine dedicated to the “castaway sinner” and holds a special place in the hearts of Tucson sex workers.
December 18, 2009
Political Rally at the downtown Phoenix offices of the Director of the Arizona Department of Corrections to protest current anti-prostitution laws and prison conditions. Did you know that in Arizona, a fourth conviction is a mandatory Class 5 felony with 180 days of prison for consensual sex between a client and a sex worker? Please visit http://swop-tucson.org for more details. Volunteers are needed to organize this day!
We had a good day out there, all in all - except that the Phoenix parade is the longest in the country, and took at least two hours just to get started. Thanks to Liz from AZ Code Pink and Ian from The Rusty Spoke and Conspire - and just about everywhere else, I suppose - for their support. Liz guided me in for a landing there, and Ian did a lot of the chalking and came up to give me encouragement when I was standing alone.
Inge, with the AZ Death Penalty Forum, visited awhile as well and took our photos. It's embarrassing to admit after all my posturing about being ready for any kind of action, but my video camera is more of a prop than anything useful - except for the still shots it can put on a chip. My Canon is just a 35mm, which I operate manually, and I haven't developed this roll since getting back from Nevada. So, the whole disposable camera idea up there is real. I have one of those, too, packed in with the FMP set-up (the blue rolling backpack), so you know it's there if you ever find yourself needing it. I just can't figure out this computer-controlled equipment; I have no idea how I ever learned how to handle these blogs.
Anyway, I'll give my video camera to whomever volunteers to take on the responsibility of learning how to use it and coming out to take footage of Marcia's Friends in action. You need to get Copwatch-trained, though. They're pretty good - I've done so many of the stupid things they say not to do, just because I've been in too many situations where I was the one calling the cops or signing complaints as the agent of my institution - usually on angry black men or people who were experiencing psychotic symptoms and just needed to go to the hospital. They always had to cuff them like criminals when they put them in the car, even when they were suicidal and begging for help.
So, that's my confession: I did outreach to the streets and jails, supervised a homeless shelter, and developed and ran a supported housing program in my past life. I was in cahoots with all the people doing things "in the best interests of" others, and screwing up their lives in the process.
Okay - it's not quite that cut and dry, and I finally wigged out in the field. We did a lot of good, but I'm not sure we ever really got this whole prison industrial complex - just pieces of it. It's like being a prison abolitionist who settles for "life without parole" over the death penalty because that's all we think we'll "realistically" get for those we advocate for - a long, slow execution by incarceration, as their loved ones live and die out of reach around them. That's the favor we do people whose voices we overwhelm with our authority and credibility when we settle for less than what we really believe is justice. We do them harm.
It's not even a sure thing that if you have evidence of your innocence you're entitled to clemency or a fair trial anywhere in this country. Georgia doesn't give clemency (especially to black cop-killers), and some Supreme Court justices don't think proof of innocence is a legitimate reason not to be executed - much less imprisoned - after you've had your original trial and appeals. As long as the records don't show evidence of misconduct, malfeasance, incompetence (which isn't established with proof an attorney used coke or slept through your trial, by the way), then sooner or later the state will take you out back and kill you, then put a picture of your head on a stake in the public arena so everyone else learns from your unfortunate lesson: you don't have to be guilty in America to go to prison, and often what we mete out as punishment is way out of proportion to their crime.
As for the parade, I'll report back more on Veterans Day stuff later, but I think the Governor acknowledged our "No More Prisons" sign, and the AZ DOC folks seemed to catch it - I figured there would be a few there because they employ so many veterans. We wanted to show some solidarity after making a connection...
Do other people out there really talk that way, or am I just reading too much leftist literature?
Anyway, to pretty much everyone else we flashed "Remember Veterans in Prison", "Remember Homeless Veterans", "9% US Prisoners = Veterans", and of course, "Free Marcia Powell". Plenty enough veterans marching yesterday remembered their comrades in prison that they made the whole escapade worth it - smiles, nods, and thank-yous came our way pretty steadily.
For the Guv, Arpaio and Thomas - and maybe Goddard - I don't remember now - we included "Arizona: Your Prison System Kills" and possibly for a few we threw in "Will Work for Prison Abolition." We chalked up the sidewalk with much of that stuff too, and handed out a few Real Cost of Prison comic books to folks who came up to talk.
Boy, did Arpaio and Thomas ever get booed by my side of the street - but the entire left wing of Phoenix seemed to envelop me for awhile in anti-war banners waiting for the "Veterans for Peace" and "Women in Black" et al to come by.
I know where I stand - it's somewhere with them, maybe hovering a little off-kilter to the side. But I also watch my old man's back, and get riled over the treatment of soldiers and veterans - not by the peace activists, but by the rest of us. We really use and abuse them.
It's hard sometimes. I struggle with Veterans' Day and the whole military parade thing - I think it's one of the most blatant and insidious methods of indoctrination we have: mixing patriotism with entertainment, God and family. But that's how it works pretty much everywhere. I'm straight with my politics - always learning more and open to conversation, but I know who I am.
Still, I hear the sound of soldiers marching and echoing their sergeant, and - like mortar or machine gun fire on the range - it brings up this bizarre sense of familiarity and comfort with these symbols and images that herald immense violence and devastation - a dynamic which doesn't really even register until I find myself talking about it, like this, in a letter late at night or something - never to be seen by anyone, of course.
This one goes up, though.
It's kind of disturbing. I hated the US Army with a passion, and was a pretty sad child. They were my evil step-parent. They abused and neglected us all - though my Dad would adamantly defend them. He knows how precious his retirement benefits are, and they did "take care of us" growing up: they fed and clothed us, and sent us off to exotic places like Fort Bragg, North Carolina, Fort Dix, New Jersey, and the real swell experience we had at Fort Buckner in Okinawa - which lasted all of three months.
They arranged new housing - usually - I only had to stay at my uncle's twice because of moving in the middle of the school year. That's not much, considering I went to thirteen different schools before I finally got my high school diploma - dropping out on the way of my own volition ,and getting thrown out towards the end.
We also had the best health insurance coverage one could get at the time - the government's CHAMPUS covered more psychiatric hospital days when I was a kid than Blue Cross. Those kids always went home before me - I think they got 45 days. I would have been criminalized long ago, otherwise. I was pretty self-destructive and out of control. Still a little wild, I guess, and getting more radical with age, instead of settling into my maturity. I think I did that part first - grew old - then regressed.
Dad was a career officer who lived and breathed the Army like he played Rachmaninoff, when it all came down to it. With all his heart and soul. I guess he also did it kind of the way I live and orchestrate these blogs and actions - not to mention all the relationships I suddenly have in my life to negotiate again: I'm way too intense for some people. Really: we have a mission, we've been well-briefed, lives are stake, and its past time for hesitation or doubt if you're on the team. Grow up already - when we move out you're aboard or we move on. We also can't afford to have good intentions that don't produce good results.
Dad wasn't quite so curt - nor am I, really - but he was definitely focused on something other than us and our relationships. Starving and dying children followed him for years after he came back from his second trip to Vietnam, like my own ghosts have followed me, wondering what we could have or should have done differently.
As far as his own kids went, God knows Dad tried just about every self-help and professional intervention he could think of for us. He's a good man. He just never understood how toxic the military was to his family - I still don't think he does. This isn't a post I could ever share with him.
Anyway, the gist is that I'm sorry if I've been short with anyone or inappropriate, but if you're not with us, at least be quiet or commend our efforts and wish us well. I don't need to hear anything more than that just now, unless it's a useful idea for what to do next. We have a good composition and enough musicians that we can pull off a symphony here. That's pretty damned amazing considering that we're poor, unemployed, and still lacking a college degree. I am, anyway.
Plus, I'm technically out of my mind. So give us a break.
We've learned a lot about organizing and resistance from those who blazed trails before us, but we're also making some of this up as we go. It's still the North Star and we move in similar ways, but we need a new route. This one's become a dead end - it's like a fake road or something.
If you have a map to freedom off the beaten path, help us out. I think there'd already be an exodus, though, so in the meantime we're just going to try to reconstruct our communities with what we know and have, and get as many people home alive as we can - helping them stay safe - then demolish the thing: the prison industrial complex, of course. Bottom up.
Off that track onto something lighter: we got an interview with an internet TV station at the parade. I was totally caught off guard; it wasn't great, and bad press can hurt some causes more than none. But it hasn't shown up on their site or under Google, and may not. The "station" is actually a PR front by some health care provider network, which is a little creepy as it is. I had no idea who they were at the time, but I liked this guy and he gave me 30 seconds or more to say whatever I wanted about Free Marcia Powell.
Anyway, they appear to do their thing live and don't seem to have archives to dig into - it's really not worth it, given how I stammer when I have to speak aloud. If anyone wants to hunt its http://www.hcanusa.com/ . Let me know if you find anything.
The point is that we all need to be prepared with a 15-second sound byte that has some depth and meaning, if such a thing is possible. It really needs to be loaded - it has to hush a room and turn all heads to the accused for a response. It has to be concise and condensed, with little room for ad-libbing - all that does is give them more of what you say to decide what to delete. That's how things get taken out of context: usually because we say too much, not too little.
I'm pretty good at packing stuff tightly when I write and dropping it strategically, but I'm hardly concise, I obsess over small details, and sometimes I just don't get it together at all - which my correspondents and professors know best. I can't memorize the four turns I take each week a few miles to my friend's home - I sure can't remember a paragraph like that under pressure. I can maybe handle a sentence or two, though, before I ramble.
See how I did that? There's more yet to come...
That kind of covers my parade notes - I may have a few more, but they have to do with veterans in prison and all that the day made me think of more than they have to do with the parade itself. Think on that last bit though, about the sound byte, and help me out. Start with what we've already posted. Maybe you all can also come up with some new signs.
I'm talking to anyone out there who's reading this, by the way - however you ended up here and wherever in the world you are, I don't care. Now you're here for some reason. There's no membership forms, meetings (yet) or dues - it's just up to each group and individual to do their thing, and let us show the world.
Dig deeper into this and you'll find what you need to know to get yourself or a group started. It's just dense to get through at first. There's a lot that's gone into twisting Arizona into this shape; a lot has been happening here, and we're hardly touching the white supremacy, capitalism and patriarchy that compose the roots - I just rail about them once in awhile.
It's not going to be an easy process, talking about all that here - in Arizona, that is. Getting that far is already part of the community discussion many have been involved with around Joe Arpaio's fiefdom, anyway. It's not like any of us has all the answers, and it's going to take most of us agreeing on the solutions to implement them, so we have a lot of work to do.
We know we can't just yell at people or wave signs and expect them to get it - not even if we have an awesome sound byte - though Americans are real suckers for those. Sound bytes are mainly to force the people who get it already to either fess up or outright deny it and face the truth of the lived experiences in their prisons and jails, and their streets and shelters. Our prisoner allies and their family members, parolees and even some "insiders", when riled and backed into a corner, will bury them in truth. That's our most powerful weapon -we just need to learn how to load, aim and fire without getting knocked on our collective ass.
Wow, listen to all my bellicose references - I think it was the holiday, but the Army's vernacular is pretty ingrained. I say things I got from my Dad all the time: "hold down the fort", "hold 'em in the road" - everything is framed in the context of a battle or maneuver of some kind or another. Life itself is a war. It gets kind of exhausting, actually.
So, we need everyone to be able to either articulate themselves on these issues better than me or defer to someone else who can. You can't use a canned answer for that part - that's going to require that you do your own research and heavy thinking about the spiteful, vindictive, prison planet we're bequeathing to future generations - with all the violence and war that comes with it - and what you're prepared to do about it once you see what's really going on, if anything.
We also still need actions and evidence of them, though: take sidewalk chalk with you everywhere you go - or a sharpie. I carry both at all times, clear packing tape, blank paper to whip fliers up on, and my still-shot and video cameras. Whenever there's a good juxtaposition of images I can frame, or an opportunity to catch a candidate in public, "Free Marcia Powell!" is quick and easy, and can be even be caught by a disposable with a 35 mm roll of film.
That's speaking from a place of relative privilege, I realize - to have time to spend and resources to get those things together, and use of a car to get around in, too. I feel strapped often, and I'm behind in bills. But I know people who do a whole lot more with much less - many of whom are also Marcia's Friends, or would be if they didn't have to work so hard to get through this life themselves.
But I think that personal experience is one of the most critical things that drives them to be there to give others a hand who are in similar straits - "lifting as we climb". That was the motto of the National Association of Colored Women when it was founded in 1896, in the context of rampant lynching, the Jim Crow South, the exploitative North, and extremely precarious geo-political and socio-economic terrains. A lot of people still fought for freedom long after the last battle of the Civil War - still do. Really, when it comes to it, if you're a slave or a prisoner (the 13th amendment turns prisoners into slaves of the state, actually), it may well be that the only ones who have anything remotely akin to your interests "at heart" are your peers and comrades trying to save themselves, too - not your keepers...
Gees - I am never going to finish this unless I just stop. That's the problem I have with sound bytes - here I'm telling others to be quiet, and I can't shut myself up once I get started. That gives me people problems too, but they're more forgiving than video is...
That was just going to be an intro to the post that follows, but I want the next post to hang prominently out there for Googlers and blog crawlers to touch on a few times, so it's coming separately, and greeting everyone on its own in the morning. You'll actually see it before you see this one. Just know that this is something pretty awesome coming up in December. We're going to rock this town from now until then getting people ready.
I don't think I'll make it down to the Pinal County Dem event for Terry Goddard's fundraiser (or whatever it is) Saturday, in Maricopa by the way. I'm sure they'll be heartbroken. All I was going to do was find a visible public spot nearby and set up a few things for a silent vigil; something somber that will make people look twice as they head into the lot, and notice the name of Marcia Powell.
I didn't get as far as making a headstone or anything like that, but I have all the signs and supplies at my place, so email if you need them. Anyone else is welcome to go instead. I have some other things to take care of these next few days, and may not be back to this site until Sunday - except for posting what's coming up next.
Keep thinking about good actions for the Thanksgiving holiday - I'm thinking indigenous (including Latino) and migrant solidarity. I'm a descendant of the Mayflower, myself, for those who may have missed it. I think that gives me a lot of potential ammo. I just have to be careful not to take out my mother and grandmother at the annual Mayflower Society Thanksgiving meal, to be held imminently - I believe - in Sheriff Joe's hometown.
Doesn't it sound delicious?
I won't do the whole friendly fire scene, though, so I need help coming up with something at least as good. We just need to think of my family as being under cover in a way - they do their own thing to make a difference from within the beast, and I think it matters for the better. Someone has to deal directly with the Pilgrims and their assorted cultural descendants - the Anglo-Europeans, or whatever we are now - because they're here to stay. We still have to civilize our people, so to speak - re-educate them, really - which takes tact and diplomacy, and time to cultivate trust in order to build a foundation which can support an intelligent, informed debate. Or we have to brainwash them, but I think conviction is deeper, and that's what people need to develop based on evidence - not more fear or illusions. Working with the right like that (the middle, out here) is one of the things my elders do, and they do it far better than me.
Back again in a few days.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
- try to have http://freemarciapowell.blogspot.com/ running along the bottom, so people who actually talk to you can get the website address;
- think about having some signs targeted at specific politicians that you might use several times between now and elections;
- bring extra sign-making supplies if possible - you can make new signs on the back of existing ones, and want some flexibility in case you get a great idea or see a new target.
- Make fliers to tape along the route.
- Sidewalk chalk does a pretty job - gorgeous on blacktop. Flourescent colors are great. Take photos for us - especially if your art is being admired. Bring a bucket so the whole family can draw "free marcia powell" everywhere...well, I don't know what city laws say about where that's okay though, so think on it....
- I carried my signs to the parade route inside a flattened box, which I tucked under my arm, then set up the box when I got there, on which I taped one of my signs near the beginning of the route where I anchored myself. That can double or triple one's sign-holding capacity, and it can be positioned strategically for the crowd, the media, or the parade marchers to see. I also used the box to put some of my extra signs, supplies, etc. in - very useful if you plan to chase after the governor's car.
(remember: packing tape, poster board, broad ink pens/paint, moving box)
** some stats on the incidence of suicides, PTSD, substance abuse among vets would also be helpful for signs or fliers - just tie it to the prison industrial complex somehow**
9% U.S. Prisoners = Veterans
Honor Veterans: Protect Prisoner Rights
GOV Brewer: Remember Vets in Prison
Goddard: Free Marcia Powell
Thomas: Free Courtney Bisbee
(I know - what's with the Thomas one? He has a few innocence claims to deal with before he leaves office - he can't just keep people sitting there - he needs to let some people free. Let's push on him to free Courtney. We need to make the innocence claims a campaign embarrassment, getting out the message that this could happen to anyone if he becomes Attorney General. People should be warned that his ego and refusal to admit a mistake makes him a dangerous, not necessarily "successful" prosecutor.)
The Spanish translation was done by my comrade in Caracas, Manuel Cedeño Berrueta. Thank you Manuel. I send you and your friends hugs from America. Tell them to start sending me Free Marcia Powell signs from Venezuela - landmarks are good to use.
In Solidarity, Peg
Departamento de Correccionales de Arizona:
Proteger los derechos de los presos
¡Libertad para Marcia Powell!
El Departamento de Correccionales de Arizona cree que han hecho lo que hay que hacer para asegurar que los reclusos no terminen como lo hizo Marcia. Sigo siendo escéptico, pero tengo muy poca influencia sobre lo que piensan y hacen. Pero, para que Marcia hubiera obtenido su libertad, habría tenido que sobrevivir a la prisión, en primer lugar. Por lo tanto, parte de esta campaña todavía comprenderá promover las reformas en las cárceles que tengan mayor probabilidad de apoyar el objetivo de la abolición, en lugar de fortalecer y consolidar el sistema penitenciario aún más.
La otra cosa importante que se puede hacer cuando la gente quiera saber qué significa “Libertad para Marcia Powell”, es preguntar: ¿Qué haría falta para que nuestra comunidad sea la clase de lugar en donde Marcia Powell hubiera podido vivir segura y libre? Y ¿estamos dispuestos a hacer lo necesario para que los reclusos - y los posibles reclusos- que todavía están vivos tengan las opciones que no le dimos a ella? Es allí donde podemos ejercer más presión -en el gobernador, la legislatura y los tribunales- para lograr una reforma global del sistema.
Sin embargo, nada debe planificarse ni decidirse sin la participación activa de los presos y sus familias. Lo único peor que ninguna reforma es una mala reforma aprobada sin informar a los más afectados.
Conocemos muchas de las respuestas a los dilemas sobre nuestras cárceles y prisiones, que ya están hacinadas; la mayoría de los estados han comenzado a tomar medidas en una dirección progresista con reformas legislativas y administrativas. Estamos tan obsesionados con hacer daño a la gente como castigo, que no dejamos nada para la rehabilitación, recuperación, búsqueda de empleo, atención de la salud pública, o cualquier cosa para hacer frente a algunos de los problemas más personales o individuales con que lidian los presos. ¿Estaremos dispuestos a cambiar lo que tenemos, sabiendo que el cambio dará sus frutos? ¿O vamos a seguir buscando represalias y causando dolor, aunque sabemos que no funciona?
El enlace de abajo es de mi buen amigo abolicionista de los Países Bajos, la primera publicación LIBEREN A MARCIA POWELL aparte de la mía.
Este es un mensaje para los blogueros de Freewaybloggers, anarquistas y activistas contra las prisiones del mundo:
Marcia Powell era una reclusa del Estado de Arizona cuando fue dejada en una jaula al aire libre a temperaturas superiores a 41° C durante cuatro horas en mayo pasado y cayó en coma. El Director del Departamento de Correccionales le retiró el equipo de respiración asistida ocho horas más tarde, creyendo – por sus antecedentes penales - que estaba sola en el mundo.
Esencialmente lo estaba. Era una prostituta drogadicta y enferma mental que cumplía una
sentencia de 27 meses por ofrecerle una mamada a un policía. Sus familiares más cercanos ni siquiera quisieron reclamar su cadáver.
Se ha estado investigando la muerte de Marcia durante los últimos 4 meses. El resultado es un informe de 3.000 páginas. 16 empleados fueron sancionados y cinco despedidos. Ninguno de los responsables fue el director, un hombre inteligente que creo que sabe muy bien lo que pasa en las cárceles. Si no lo sabe, entonces está más despistado de lo que yo pensaba. Tal vez es mejor que ser cómplice.
En cualquier caso, muy poco parece haber cambiado hacia políticas prudentes, salvo que ahora las jaulas tienen rociadores y sombra, y hay un cuadro en una carpeta para que los guardias comprueben que ven a alguien en la jaula respirar cada media hora. No hay información sobre el suicidio del policía y la protesta con fuego después de la muerte de Marcia, los medios de comunicación se ha olvidado por completo de eso. No se habla del hacinamiento que los ha llevado a utilizar jaulas al aire libre como celdas de detención, grupos de presión y “zonas de recreo” en primer lugar, y “botes” en el piso como camas.
Parece como si el uso de las jaulas para castigar a la gente (que el director dice no fue el caso) ha estado sucediendo en todas las cárceles durante años; denuncias formales se hicieron hace dos años, sin que el entonces director Schriro ni el Gobernador Napolitano (del Departamento de Seguridad Interior) se molestaran en hacer nada al respecto.
Ellos pudieron haber evitado esta muerte si hubieran actuado entonces. Tengo algunas palabras más para ellos que las que he tenido para el director Ryan. Pudieron haber puesto fin a las jaulas y respondido a las denuncias de abuso con algo más que “peticiones de sobreseimieto” en los tribunales.
Pero no lo hicieron. Los presos simplemente no constituyen un poderoso grupo de votantes, una de las razones para restaurar sus derechos civiles. Y rara vez se les anima a ejercitar sus voces. Si lo hicieran, esto habría sido evitado hace mucho tiempo.
El Departamento de Correccionales de Arizona debe aprovechar esta oportunidad ahora para transformar radicalmente su cultura, sus políticas y las instalaciones, porque en caso contrario el próximo catalizador para el cambio será otra trágica muerte o el horrendo abuso criminal. Sin embargo, en la actualidad parecen estar tratando de renunciar a esto y reafirmarse como adalides de la seguridad pública, la Ley y el Orden de siempre.
Ni siquiera pudieron proteger a una mujer que moría junto a su ventana abrasada por el sol del desierto, en una jaula cuyas llaves sólo ellos tenían. Salvo asegurarse de que las puertas de la prisión estén cerradas cuando se van, ¿cómo podrían protegernos al resto de nosotros?
Al aceptar una reciente asignación de $ 50 millones para salarios de los empleados - que fue conveniente y ceremoniosamente concedida antes de que se conociera el informe del abuso, el director agradeció al buen gobernador en nombre de todos sus “valientes” y “esforzados” funcionarios. No se mencionó ni un centavo para los derechos de los reclusos, mejoras en las instalaciones, servicios de salud, nada. Sólo más dinero para más guardias para que abusen de más personas que más jueces van a sacar de circulación por las cosas más insignificantes que no vale la pena pagar 26.000 dólares por año / preso sólo para obtener la satisfacción de la venganza o la ilusión de control social.
Enviar más niños a la universidad, en su lugar. Construir más viviendas asequibles. Ampliar el alcance a las personas sin hogar. Aliviar un poco de sufrimiento, en lugar de imponer más.
La oficina del gobernador no dijo ni una palabra sobre las últimas horas de Marcia, excepto que confían en el buen trabajo del director.
Ya sé que ustedes están dispersos por ahí, blogueros de autopista; ya no recibo su lista de correo, pero todavía hay algunas guerras que librar, y éste es una de ellas. Sé que todavía están trabajando, y necesito tu ayuda. Sé que va a tomar algún tiempo generar un impulso, pero alguien tiene que comenzar. Sólo una señal extra cada vez que sales. Etiquetadores, quiero ver su arte. Anarquistas, bueno, todos ustedes ya saben qué hacer. Haga cada quien lo suyo.
Camaradas internacionales: Sería grandioso si pudieran colocar Libertad para Marcia Powell junto a los principales destinos turísticos y tomar fotografías. Entonces podríamos hacer tarjetas postales y enviarlas a todas partes.
Pero ahora no violen la ley, yo no estaría a favor de algo así. Hay muchos lugares legales para poner carteles y graffitis. Y no se detengan hasta que lo que hagamos.
Por favor, tomen fotografías y pongan carteles donde sea posible, como de costumbre. Envíenme las fotos para ponerlas en mi blog. Machaquen a los medios de comunicación con ellas, eso hará que la gente pregunte quién es ella, y entonces buscar en Google, descubrir, leer, llorar, preguntar y tal vez incluso escribir a los periódicos y a los legisladores y fiscales y jueces. Es necesario insistir al Departamento de Correccionales de Arizona sobre la transparencia y la participación pública, un mayor contacto entre los presos y la comunidad, aplicar sentencias más inteligentes y leyes que mejoren, no que erosionen, los derechos de los reclusos y los estándares de las cárceles.
Como la Ley de Marcia. Todavía no ha sido escrita. Creo que un comité compuesto por convictos en libertad condicional, reclusos y sus familiares debe ser quien lo escriba; los administradores y legisladores que deberían haber estado al frente de esta iniciativa desde hace mucho tiempo deberían revisar sus propios códigos éticos y sus misiones.
Debe ser una ley que proteja y de poder a los reclusos, incluso darles el derecho a organizarse, no una ley que sólo le dé más privilegios a un grupito de buena conducta y una bonita vista para el público. Debe tener poder real, la financiamiento real.
Y debe ser la ley más dura del país sobre los derechos de los reclusos, una que cada activista de la cárcel quiera que su estado imite.
Tal vez la podemos incluir en los proyectos de reforma de justicia penal en los que el Congreso está trabajando. El Senador Jim Webb es el hombre con quien podemos hablar de eso.
Todavía tenemos que apartar a este monstruo, por supuesto. Sin embargo, hasta que podamos hacer el trabajo, tenemos que asegurarnos de que los presos pueden sobrevivir a sus sentencias, y luego hacer todo lo posible para evitar que reincidan.
Pero primero lo primero.
Manos a la obra.
Si mis blogs desaparecen o les digo que se detengan antes de que la campaña haya logrado sus objetivos (se añadirán más), supongan que alguien me está retorciendo el brazo. Todos ustedes son “unidades autónomas” y pueden seguir las noticias, sabrán cuándo es el momento de entrar.
Pasó casi una hora después de apagar el equipo de respiración asistida para que Marcia muriera, a medida que sus órganos morían lentamente. En Estados Unidos somos menos crueles incluso con la gente que ejecutamos.
Por favor, liberen a Marcia Powell.
No dejemos que la entierren de nuevo en el desierto.
Arizona Department of Corrections:
Protect prisoner rights
Marcia Powell Vrij!
The Arizona Department of Corrections believes they have done what they need to do in order to assure that prisoners don't end up like Marcia did again. I remain skeptical, but have very little influence over what they think and do. But, in order for Marcia to have gained her freedom, she would have had to survive prison, first. So, part of this campaign will still involve promoting those prison reforms which are most likely to support the goal of abolition, rather than strengthening and entrenching the prison system even further.
The other important thing to do when people want to know what "Free Marcia Powell" means, is to ask: What would it take for our community to be the kind of place in which Marcia Powell could have lived both safe and free? And are we willing to do to what it takes for the prisoners - and potential prisoners - still alive today to have the options we didn't give her? That may be where we can do the most pushing - on the governor, legislature, and courts for comprehensive system reform.
Nothing should be planned or decided without the active involvement of prisoners and their families, though. The only thing worse than no reform is bad reform that is passed without being informed by those affected the most.
We know a lot of the answers to our dilemmas about our bulging jails and prisons already - most states have begun moving in a progressive direction with legislative and administrative reforms.
We're just so fixated on hurting people as punishment; we have nothing left for rehabilitation, recovery, job placement, public health care, or anything to address some of the more personal or individual issues that prisoners are grappling with. Will we be willing to change what it is we pay for, knowing that it will pay off? Or will we continue to seek retribution and cause pain even though we know it doesn't work?
The link below is from my good abolitionist friend in the Netherlands, the first FREE MARCIA POWELL post other than mine.
This post is a message to the Freewaybloggers, Anarchists, and prison activists of the World:
Marcia Powell was a prisoner of the State of Arizona when she was left in an outdoor cage in temperatures exceeding 107 degrees for four hours last May and fell into a coma. The Director of the Department of Corrections took her off of life support eight hours later, believing - from her criminal record - that she was alone in the world.
She essentially was. She was a drug-addicted, mentally ill prostitute serving 27 months for offering a cop a blow job. Her next-of-kin didn't even want to claim her body.
They've been investigating Marcia's death for the past 4 months. A 3,000 page report is now back. 16 employees were disciplined; five fired. None of those held responsible were the director, a smart man who I believe knows full well what goes on in those prisons. If he doesn't, then he's more clueless than I thought. Maybe that's better than being complicit.
In any event, very little appears to have changed policy-wise, except for misters and shade in the cages now, and a box on a clipboard for guards to check that they see someone in the cage breathing every half an hour. No information on what the officer suicide and prisoner arson protest were all about after Marcia's death - the media has completely forgotten that. No talk about the overcrowding that has them using outdoor cages as holding cells, lobbies and "recreation" areas in the first place, and "boats" on the floor as beds.
It would seem as if the use of those cages to punish people (which the director says was not the case here) has been going on at all the prisons for years - formal complaints were made just two years ago, which neither then-Director Schriro nor then-Governor Napolitano (of Homeland Security fame) bothered to do anything about.
They could have prevented this death, if they had acted then. I have a few more choice words for them than I've even had for Director Ryan. They could have put an end to the cages and responded to abuse complaints with something other than "motions to dismiss" in court.
But they didn't. Prisoners just don't make up a very powerful voting bloc - one reason to restore their civil rights. And they are seldom encouraged to exercise their voices. If they were, this would have been headed off long ago.
The ADC should make good use of this opportunity now to radically transform their culture, policies, and facilities, because the next catalyst for such change will otherwise be another tragic death or horrendous criminal abuse. At present, however, they appear to be trying to shake this off and reassert themselves as champions of public safety; good old Law and Order.
They couldn't even protect a woman dying outside their window the desert sun, in a cage that only they had the keys to. Short of making sure the prison doors are locked when they leave, how could they possibly protect the rest of us?
Upon accepting a recent allotment of $50 million for employee salaries - which was conveniently and ceremoniously awarded before the abuse report came out - the director thanked the good governor on behalf of all his "brave" and "hard-working" officers. Not a penny was mentioned for prisoner rights, facility improvements, health services - nothing. Just more money for more guards to abuse more people that more judges are going to put away for the pettiest things that aren't worth paying $26,000 a year/prisoner just to get the satisfaction of vengeance or the illusion of social control out of.
Send a few more kids to college, instead. Build more affordable housing. Expand outreach to people who are homeless. Alleviate a little bit of suffering, instead of imposing more.
Not a word from the governor's office - except confidence in the director's fine work - about Marcia's final hours.
So, I know you're scattered out there, freewaybloggers; I don't get your list-serve anymore, but there's a few wars going on still, and this is one of them. I know you're still at work, and I need your help. I know it'll take some time to build momentum, but someone has to start it. Just one extra sign every time you go out.
Taggers, I want to see your art. Anarchists - well - you all know what to do already. Do your thing.
My international comrades - it would be awesome if you could locate Free Marcia Powell next to major tourist destinations and take pictures. Then we could make postcards and send them everywhere.
Just don't anyone break the law, now. I wouldn't advocate something like that. There are plenty of legal places to put signs and graffiti. And don't stop until we do.
Please photograph and post everywhere possible, as usual. Send me pictures as well and I'll put them on my blog. Hammer the national media with them. It'll get people asking who she is, then Googling, discovering, reading, weeping, wondering, and maybe even writing to their newspapers and legislators and prosecutors and judges.
They need to be insisting on AZ Department of Corrections transparency and public involvement, more contact between prisoners and the community, smarter sentencing practices, and laws improving - not eroding - prisoner rights and prison standards.
Like Marcia's Law. It has yet to be written. I think a committee of parolees, prisoners and their family members should be the ones who write it; the administrators and legislators who should have been on top of this a long time ago should revisit their own ethical codes and stated missions.
It needs to be a law which protects and empowers prisoners - including giving them the right to organize - not one which just gives a handful of the well-behaved more privileges and the public a prettier view. It has to have real teeth, and real funding.
And it should be the toughest prisoner rights law in the country, one which every prison activist wants their state to emulate.
Maybe we can get it into the criminal justice reform bills Congress is working on. Senator Jim Webb is the man to talk to about that.
We still have to take this monster apart, of course. Until we can do the job, however, we need to make sure that prisoners can survive their sentences - and then do everything possible to keep them from going back inside.
But first things first.
Crank it up a notch.
If my blogs disappear or I tell you to stop before the campaign achieves it's objectives (more will be added), assume someone is just twisting my arm. You're all "autonomous units", and are able to follow the news. You'll know when it's time to come in.
It took almost an hour after life support was turned off for Marcia to die, as her organs slowly shut down. In America, we're even kinder to the people that we execute than that.
Please Free Marcia Powell.
Don't let them bury her in the desert again.
Monday, November 9, 2009
La prostituta y los derechos
Por Alejandro Armengol
en Junio 22, 2009
Una prisionera mantenida en una celda al aire libre bajo temperaturas extremas falleció en prisión. Si el hecho hubiera ocurrido en Cuba, se habrían producido comentarios en la prensa mundial, multiplicado en Miami y Washington los llamados a interrumpir cualquier tipo de conversación con el gobierno de la isla e iniciado campañas de denuncias sobre los abusos de los derechos humanos. Pero no, la muerte se produjo en otro país, que se destaca por su labor de denuncia de los abusos que ocurren en cualquier otra parte que no sea su territorio: Estados Unidos. De acuerdo a un cable de la AFP, fechado el 17 de junio, Marcia Powell, una prostituta de 48 años que estaba cumpliendo una condena de 27 meses de cárcel, en una prisión de Phoenix, Arizona, murió tras permanecer encerrada en una celda sin sombra a temperaturas promedio de 108 grados Fahrenheit, en este estado donde existen esas prisiones con celdas sin techo. Desde la muerte de Powell se cerraron las 233 celdas similares que existen en las 10 cárceles de Arizona, que operan desde la década de 1960 y son usadas como instalaciones temporales mientras se transfieren a los presos.
El director del Departamento de Correccionales de Arizona, Charles Ryan, admitió que la muerte de Powell era responsabilidad del sistema carcelario.
Las celdas al aire libre, que durante un tiempo el gobierno norteamericano también utilizó en la Base Naval de Guantánamo, Cuba, son un ejemplo típico de una mentalidad medieval en el trato de prisioneros. También una muestra de la falta de humanidad que cotidianamente se alcanza en este país sin que a nadie le preocupe.
''En el estado de Arizona es una barbaridad dejar a un perro afuera cuando hace calor o sin agua por cualquier periodo de tiempo. Para el Departamento de Correccionales hacer esto rutinariamente con los prisioneros nos indica hasta qué punto tenemos que llegar en este país para aprender sobre los derechos humanos'', dijo Donna Leone Hamm, miembro de la organización defensora de los prisioneros Middle Ground Prison Reform, citada por la AFP.
''El Departamento los llama recintos al aire libre. Son jaulas, como las de perros, con una cadena atada al muro a los lados y en la parte de arriba'', describió Hamm.
Que la vida de las mascotas se valore por encima de las de otros seres humanos es algo común en Estados Unidos. Recientemente fue detenido en Miami un adolescente que al parecer mató y mutiló a más de una docena de gatos.
Por repugnante que resulten los hechos, el culpable merece más un tratamiento siquiátrico que la condena a cadena perpetua que algunos reclaman en esta ciudad.
Las violaciones a los derechos humanos en una nación nunca justifican las que ocurren en otros. En todos los casos, son condenables. Que en este país ocurran hechos como la muerte de Marcia Powell, no disminuye en lo más mínimo la necesidad de denunciar el historial represivo del gobierno cubano. En la isla se practica una represión sin tregua, aunque las largas condenas han sido sustituidas por breves arrestos preventivos.
Lo que debería servir de señal de alarma es que la poca difusión que ha recibido un hecho como la muerte de la prostituta no es más que un indicador de que la prensa institucionalizada norteamericana decide qué noticias publicar con base a criterios en que importa poco lo que podría catalogarse de ''aspecto humano'', que en resumidas cuentas se reduce la mayoría de las veces al sensacionalismo más barato, cuando no a la mojigatería.
Si bien se ha avanzado en la denuncia de las violaciones a las libertades individuales, por encima de los criterios partidistas, queda aún mucho por hacer. Parece casi imposible que se pueda ''limpiar'' toda denuncia de maltratos de la carga ideológica. No son pocas las víctimas y sus defensores que con todo derecho exigen el castigo de sus torturadores, mientras injustamente miran para otro lado cuando se trata de condenar a otros.
Un buen ejemplo de ello es el recién publicado Papeles inesperados, de Julio Cortázar. El libro aparece a los 25 años de la muerte de su autor, y contiene una extensa colección de textos inéditos y dispersos, escritos por Cortázar a lo largo de su vida.
En Papeles inesperados no asombra, pero uno lamenta de nuevo, encontrar al otro Cortázar junto al escritor de brillantes cuentos, ese que al hablar de Cuba llenaba cuartillas con un fervor digno del peor realismo socialista --ese estilo que denunció en más de una ocasión.
En una especie de cuaderno de viaje fechado en 1976 --luego de varios años de que el escritor argentino firmara la primera carta de denuncia por la detención del poeta cubano Heberto Padilla, en 1971, y se arrepintiera públicamente después--, Cortázar hace un recorrido por la isla donde todo lo encuentra de maravilla, y sólo se permite un ligero guiño en un acápite último que titula ''final prosaico''. Un contraste con las crónicas y los artículos de denuncia, por los crímenes que por entonces cometían las dictaduras militares que azotaban a Latinoamérica, que aparecen en el mismo libro. Los altibajos de un autor apegado a la política.
Si hablo de Cortázar, fallecido hace varios años, es porque esa dicotomía a la hora de enfrentar los casos de abusos en diversos regímenes políticos no ha desaparecido aún. La batalla por el respeto de los derechos humanos es una lucha que no logra trascender las fronteras ideológicas.
Note that David Lujan will also be there - he wants to be the next Attorney General - so we've got to catch him.
Pinal County Democrats hosting Fall Gala in Maricopa
November 9, 2009
Attorney General Terry Goddard will be the featured speaker at the Democratic Fall Gala in Maricopa.
Pinal County Democrats and the Province Democratic Club will host their 2009 Fall Gala Dinner at Province on Saturday, Nov. 14. Featured guests will be Attorney General Terry Goddard and Maricopa City Councilman Edward Farrell.
Reservations are required, and tickets to this event are $65 each. Table sponsorships start at $500.
The event will be held at the Province Town Hall, 20942 N. Province Pkwy. Registration begins at 6 p.m. with dinner at 7 p.m. The public is invited to attend.
"This is a great opportunity to hear Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard," said Joe Robison, chairman of the Pinal County Democrats. "Terry Goddard is a favorite to be the next governor of Arizona and has an excellent and extensive record of public service in Arizona. He will be an asset as our next governor.”
City of Maricopa Council member and candidate Edward Farrell is slated to speak about the past and future of the city of Maricopa.
Among other candidates or potential candidates scheduled to attend are: State Senator Rebecca Rios, State Representative Barbara McGuire, County Clerk Kristi Youtsey Ruiz and potential Arizona Attorney General candidate David Lujan. Potential U.S. Senate candidate Rodney Glassman will sing the National Anthem.
To RSVP, contact the Pinal Democrats at 520-868-0072 or send an email to email@example.com.
Public Schedule For Governor Jan Brewer
Monday, November 9, 2009
• 11:00 a.m. – Governor to Visit Bishop’s Storehouse in Mesa
LDS Employment Resource Center, Conference Room
235 South El Dorado Circle, Mesa
• 2:00 p.m. – Governor Brewer to Speak at the Banner Health Dedication
and Blessing of Cardon Children’s Medical Center
Cardon Children's Medical Center
1400 South Dobson Road, Mesa
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
• 4:00 p.m. – Governor to Hold Bill Signing Ceremony – SB 1403 –
Renewable, high-wage Industry Incentives
Greater Phoenix Economic Council
2 North Central Avenue, Suite 2500,
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
• 9:30 a.m. – Governor to Participate in Veterans Day Parade
Phoenix VA Health Care System
650 East Indian School Road, Phoenix
• 1:25 p.m. – Governor to Attend Arizona State Veterans Home Barbecue
And Veterans Celebration
Arizona State Veterans Home
4141 North 3rd Street, Phoenix
Thursday, November 12, 2009
• 8:30 a.m. - Governor to Speak at 88th Annual Meeting of Arizona Farm Bureau
Carefree Resort and Villas
37220 Mule Train Road, Carefree
• 2 p.m. – Governor to Speak at Street Renaming Ceremony in Honor of
Arizona State Veterans Home
4141 North 3rd Street, Phoenix
• 5:00 p.m. – Governor to Speak at the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree Celebration
Arizona State Capitol Mall
17th Avenue between Washington and Jefferson Streets
Friday, November 13, 2009
• 12:00 p.m. - Governor to Speak At Arizona Character Education Foundation’s
10th Anniversary Celebration
Salt River Project PERA Club Facility
1 East Continental Drive, Tempe