The 'Friends of Marcia Powell' are autonomous groups and individuals engaging in prisoner outreach, informal advocacy, and organized protest and direct actions in a sustained campaign to: promote prisoner rights and welfare in America; engage the Arizona public in a creative and thoughtful critique of our system of "justice;” deconstruct the prison industrial complex; and dismantle this racist, classist patriarchy...

SUPPORT your local Prison Abolitionist!

To all my AZ friends/family: Thanks so much for your and likes and hope and encouraging words these past 4 1/2 years. You helped me survive some of the loneliest days and hardest nights I've endured yet by keeping our connections alive across 2000 miles.

My 55th birthday is June 13, 2019, and I plan to celebrate it in PHX (details to be announced). I'm leaving Michigan (god willing) by May 25 - and should land in an undisclosed location in the Deep Southwest soon after.

Here's my PAYPAL link for anyone who wants to shoot me $10 bucks or throw a big impromptu anarchist talent show and pass a hat or something to help me make it home. Once I land I'll be back to work on my art again, and will send a homemade gift to everyone I can...

PAYPAL.ME/ARIZONAPRISONWATCH

And don't forget to pick up PJ Starr's 2016 documentary film about the life ad death of Marcia Joanne Powell:

NO HUMAN INVOLVED

SHARING IS CARING,

so please share with all our friends!!

THANK YOU and MUCH to all, near and far.

Love,

Peggy Plews May 18, 2019

Retiring "Free Marcia Powell"

As of December 2, 2010 (with occasional exceptions) I'm retiring this blog to direct more of my time and energy into prisoner rights and my other blogs; I just can't do anyone justice when spread so thin. I'll keep the site open so folks can search the archives and use the links, but won't be updating it with new posts. If you're looking for the latest, try Arizona Prison Watch. Most of the pieces posted here were cross-posted to one or both of those sites already.

Thanks for visiting. Peace out - Peg.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Perryville prisoner suicides.

Suicide in a community increases the risk to those most susceptible to follow suit. The number to the national suicide hotline is posted in the side column. The reason to call if you need to is in Phil Ochs' song, also in the side column. Stop, listen, call.

Our condolences go out to this young woman's loved ones.


------------------------

ARIZONA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS
JANICE K. BREWER GOVERNOR
1601 W. JEFFERSON PHOENIX, ARIZONA 85007 (602) 542-3133
CHARLES L. RYAN DIRECTOR

For Immediate Release

For more information contact:

Barrett Marson
www.bmarson@azcorrections.gov

Bill Lamoreaux
www.blamorea@azcorrections.gov

July 23, 2010
Inmate Death Notification


Goodyear, Az.- Inmate Geshell Fernandez, ADC#196933, died while in Arizona Department of Corrections custody early Friday after apparently committing suicide.

Medical responders attempted life saving measures in her cell but Fernandez was pronounced dead at 12:48 a.m.

Fernandez, 28, came to ADC in November 2009 after a conviction from Maricopa County for aggravated assault and a drug paraphernalia violation. She was serving 7.5 years and housed at ASPC-Perryville in the Lumley Unit.

The death is under investigation by the Department.



###

The Governor's Reply and I: Correspondence with the ADC.

Some of you may remember that I wrote to the Governor a couple of weeks ago about Davon Acklin, William Macumber, and the other prisoners that she's leaving to die behind bars - regardless of their illnesses, crimes or innocence. Yesterday I received a reply to that letter from the Office of Constituent Services at the Arizona Department of Corrections. Below is that email, followed by my response to it. I doubt I'll be hearing from them again - I kind of hit "send" when I was trying to "save" and proof it. This gives you the update, though.

FYI: the people I cc'd my response to are Charles Ryan (the Director of the ADC) and his corporate counsel, Karyn Klausner (who was pretty cool when she was a criminal defense attorney, in my book, because she stuck up for that 8-year old St. Johns kid that prosecutors wanted to charge as an adult for killing his dad. Still, try to avoid messing with her.)


------------------------------------

BETTY CASSIANO Mon, Jul 26, 2010 at 12:23 PM
To: arizonaprisonwatch@gmail.com
Good morning Ms. Plews,

Your e-mail message to the Arizona Governor's office concerning Arizona Department of Corrections inmate was forwarded to me for response.

I sincerely appreciate your concern for both inmates and want to assure you that the Arizona Department of Corrections provides health care to incarcerated offenders consistent with community standards. Quality care and services responsive to the offender population include: medical services, mental health services, dental care, primary nursing care, and pharmacy services. Keeping offenders healthy is the basic platform from which the offender is prepared and supported to successfully complete basic education, work skills and experience, and recreational and leisure skills essential to building good citizenship and self-sufficiency. The Health Services Bureau also assists inmates in learning to develop and sustain personal wellness through ongoing education designed to augment healthy living while diminishing life-style habits that can lead to poor health and a decreased quality of life.

As you may know, medical information is strictly confidential and not available to inquirers in accordance with federal and state statutes.

Information about the Arizona Department of Corrections is available on the public website as follows: www.azcorrections.gov . I invite you to access the site for additional information about the Health Services Division and other areas of interest to you. The Constituent Services page provides access to a handbook which includes information about many areas of concern as well as a listing of applicable policies and contact numbers.

Betty J. Cassiano
ADC/Constituent Services Office

Peggy Plews Tue, Jul 27, 2010 at 4:42 AM
To: BETTY CASSIANO
Cc: CHARLES RYAN , KARYN KLAUSNER
Dear Mrs. Cassiano,

Don't believe everything that Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC) health services administrators tell you - they either don't know squat, or they have a propensity for lying. In fact, their department can't even keep their medical records straight or accounted for. Davon needs a liver biopsy for anyone to be able to say how ill he really is (or isn't) from Hep C, and he needs genotyping to determine his chances of surviving this thing with early treatment. Unfortunately, resources are instead being spent trying to deflect his mother and I in our attempts to help him.

These are just stalling tactics - as is being referred to you. She and I are both done with the games.

I suspect it's going to cost Arizona more to fight us than it would have to competently diagnose and treat Davon early in the course of his infection, because now we're out to change the whole system. We may not be able to bust him out of there in time to prevent further damage from the virus, but he's going to end up getting options for medical care either now or later - all we need to do is to escalate this issue enough that the visibility brings other ADC families to us wondering why their mentally ill kid wasn't offered Hep C treatment, too, and we have a class action suit. In the meantime, you have a lot of highly-paid people spinning in circles doing absolutely nothing for that boy. That's a pathetic waste of precious taxpayer money, and we already spend more on you than on our schools.

As for standard medical protocols - "we're just following the leader" is no excuse. You've been warned specifically that neglecting Davon's medical care because he has a serious mental illness is a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and your algorithms giving you that out are based on research that's over a decade old. Did you realize that? Did Ryan or Karyn Klausner? They'd better not be counting on their dental staff for guidance about whether or not the ADC is following good medical protocol regarding Hep C. Given the advances in the areas of diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment in recent years, that's malpractice in my book. Furthermore, the argument that he's too close to his out date to begin treatment now (because you want to assure that he completes it) is pretty flimsy. You all know full well that Julie would make sure he continued his treatment once released - especially after all this. Few prisoners have as supportive a family to go home to as Davon does.

What the American Correctional Association has to say about your protocols and standards is the last thing that will impress me - they're paid off by prison profiteers and have elected as their president the man who's presided over Mississippi's DOC as their prisoner mortality rate has shot up to the second highest in the country. In any case, I think every entity that promulgates the same standards that the ADC uses to determine who and when to treat for Hep C should also be sued for violating the ADA and the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA). I'm sure to find a good attorney in each pertinent jurisdiction who will agree with me.

So, please don't bother writing to me again if you're just going to give me the standard line of ADC BS, as you do so well. It just pisses me off, and it disrespects those dying inside. Your people don't even know how sick Davon is because they refuse to do an adequate medical evaluation - lest a specialist finds something you have to treat (or get sued over for not treating) out of your grossly inflated budget. They apparently haven't even checked him out themselves, yet - for all the communication that Julie has had with you people all this time, now she's being told that unless Davon fills out a health request himself, he doesn't have any symptoms. That's very disconcerting - and the standard MO for departments of corrections trying to keep down health care/litigation costs by denying when prisoners are sick and putting up barriers to care in the first place. All of you are treating Julie like she's some kind of idiot - she probably knows more about Hep C now than most of your "experts". And she's learning fast where the money for Hep C + prisoners comes from and goes to (not to prisoners like Davon, clearly - the mentally ill, that is. They're apparently all a bad risk).

Don't bother trying to talk to Julie again either, by the way - all you seem to do is insult her.

As for disseminating info about funding mandates and ADA/CRIPA obligations (we're going to make new case law. Just watch): we have more than just Facebook and my blogs for public consumption. We see a whole lot of lives at stake here and are willing to put ourselves on the line over this - and our alliances now include the crew keeping a 24/7 watch at the capitol. They came to our vigil in May and cried as Julie told them about her son, while I passed out Spanish language literature about hep C. Then they blessed us with drumming and sage. Several former prisoners with Hep C came up to Julie to give her a hug and thank her for talking about it to fight the stigma; they always got the message that they're just criminals and therefore not worth saving. It was all pretty powerful. My brother has the video and is going to try to figure out how to put it on You Tube. I've also been contacted by a journalism student who does film editing and we discussed doing a project on Hep C in prison, using AZ as an example of what prisons do wrong. Especially to the mentally ill, who clearly aren't worth the expense or hassle of even finding out if they need treatment or not...

Unless you want to be the example of someone doing something right by the most vulnerable people in custody, instead. I kind of doubt Ryan will choose that route, though.

As for ADC's health services educating anyone, particularly prisoners: all Davon knows about his illness is what he feels and what his mother tells him. Clearly the people paid to "educate" patients and the public about Hep C aren't doing their job, or we wouldn't end up doing all this. I've read the literature they hand out on Hep C. After describing how ill one can get, one such fact sheet sarcastically concludes: "As you can see, it's better not to get this in the first place." Why am I writing a blog about Hep C and posting the latest research, not them? What did they do to recognize World Hepatitis Day in May? We want harm reduction programs in place both in and out of prison - this is absurd for this disease to still be killing people in 2010 when we know how to stop it. Prisoner health is public health, so don't think this starts and stops with you and no one else should worry about it. Remember ACT UP? You haven't seen anything yet. This (the first two photos below) was just to cheer Julie up - I staged it during AM rush hour in front of Fox News. Saving Davon is what this comes down to, not just freeing him.

Once we aren't competing with SB 1070, we're going to be out there raising hell and digging up more witnesses and claimants. We can be pretty creative; I'll escalate it as necessary to get local and national media on this, and I have a lot of friends who are sympathetic to prisoners and down for just about any kind of direct action that counters state violence - which is what I consider medical neglect of institutionalized persons to be. I have no fear left in me and very few inhibitions - I was already assaulted the night we did the candlelight vigil (hence my silence on the anniversary of Marcia's death - I was abandoning my home that day), and my car was vandalized two days later (nearly killed me on the highway when my tire went). All coincidence, I'm sure, that just knocked me off my feet for a little while - blessings in disguise to teach me that no matter what happens to me, exposing you people is the right thing to do.

As is exposing the Governor's brutality, who still has to answer for leaving Macumber to die. Even the New York Times is watching him (and now Liptak knows about Davon, as well), so please try not to kill him before he gets out of there. By the way, I can see the DOJ Googling your dead prisoners. I think they're on to you already for all those murders since Brewer/Ryan took over, aren't they? Maybe for the suicides, too - including that boy on the minors unit this spring. I have a packet to send off to them anyway, just in case they hadn't heard about everyone or didn't know that others cared out here.

Finally, rest assured that I know how to find everything I need on the ADC website now - I even notice what isn't there - and please don't ever refer me to your handbook of propaganda again for answers to serious questions like these.

Thank you for your time.

Margaret Jean Plews

(this email will be forwarded to the Governor's office and posted on my websites, lest it gets lost in the ether.)

Brewer Save Davon 719.JPG

Morning Rush Hour: July 19, 2010 (W. Washington St/7th Ave, Phoenix)



Brewer all signs 719.JPG

Morning Rush Hour: July 19, 2010 (W. Washington St/7th Ave, Phoenix)



ADC 716 Free Davon.JPG

Early Afternoon: July 16, 2010 (W. Jefferson St/15th Ave.; across from the ADC)



“The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons.”
- Fyodor Dostoyevsky (1821-1881)

Prison Abolitionist
http://prisonabolitionist.blogspot.com
Arizona Prison Watch
http://arizonaprisonwatch.blogspot.com
Arizona Juvenile Prison Watch
http://azjuvenileprisonwatch.blogspot.com
Hard Time: Hep C in AZ Jails and Prisons
http://hardtimehepc.blogspot.com
Free Marcia Powell
http://freemarciapowell.blogspot.com

¡El pueblo unido, jamás será vencido!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Where there is Darkness, Light...

This is stunning (Congratulations David Cantor). In a time and place where we've come to expect the worst from our public servants, Mr. Romley seems to be emerging as a man who is willing to put his job - serving the people - before his career. Unfortunately, that's something of a miracle here.

I can think of a few people who could learn something from this, beginning with the governor herself. As some of you may know, she's left a man she knows to be innocent, William Macumber, to die in a prison cell.

I can also think of a few more innocent souls whose nightmares have yet to end.
Courtney Bisbee is one. Andrew Thomas buried the evidence that will exonerate her. God willing, Mr. Romley will have the political courage to set someone free again. It's one thing to correct an injustice done on the watch of another, however. It's something else altogether to admit and fix the ones we own.

Mr. Romley has a long history here; I hope he's willing to take responsibility for that as well. If so, even people like me might vote for him then. If not, we may just give up believing there's enough difference between any of them to bother voting any more at all. For now, however, we're grateful for this ray of light in the darkness that envelops the wrongly convicted, and for the hope that it brings to their loved ones.


Blessings to you, Lisa Randall: welcome to the rest of your life. May you be forever free.

------------------------------

Charges Dropped, Nightmare Ends for Peoria Woman

KSAZ Fox News

Updated: Thursday, 22 Jul 2010, 7:22 PM MDT
Published : Thursday, 22 Jul 2010, 7:22 PM MDT

PHOENIX - A beloved babysitter for nearly three decades found herself charged with murder in the death of a baby under her care. But now, a prosecutor has dismissed those charges.

"I can finally breathe. It's been a long 3 and a half years of hell," said Randall as she came out of a courthouse Thursday. Her ankle monitoring bracelet will finally come off.

In 2007, Lisa Randall's odyssey began as she faced the death penalty when 4-month-old Dillon died while in Randall's Peoria home in day care.

A medical examiner has since ruled the 4-month-old boy's death as undetermined, but Randall's attorney, David Cantor, says the child died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. (S.I.D.S.)

"Lisa was the victim of a witch hunt," said Cantor. "She had a police department with a detective who did his first homicide investigation, and his last, he didn't know what he was doing. And the medical examiners based everything on the information given to them from the detective, which was faulty."

The detective had said the baby suffered blunt force trauma, but when there was an autopsy, no skull fractures were found.

"Rick Romley, once he took over and Andrew Thomas was out, we finally had a voice of reason. They put it to an incidents review committee and they voted 8-0 and said this case needs to be dismissed in the interest of justice."

All charges were dropped and a court tossed out the case. Randall may decide to file a civil lawsuit against the Peoria Police Department and the Maricopa County Attorney's Office.

This is the first prosecutor-initiated dismissal of a capital murder case in at least 10 years in Maricopa County.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Scott Watch: Mother and Child Reunions


An update from Sis Marpessa on the Scott Sisters. There's something about love across generations that makes Hell hurt a little less. Blessings to Mrs. Rasco from Arizona - it's going a little nuts in the streets here, but we're still with you all. For everyone else, let's get on all this before Monday - there are three concrete things listed that we can do right now to help.

Actually, skip the part below and head on over to the Free The Scott Sisters' blog instead - there's an awesome, soulful tune that comes up with the current page (hit the player to the left if it doesn't start automatically). Listen to it as you read this update there, buy a t-shirt if you can, and put your brain to work again on how we're going to get the State of Mississippi to free these women (and keep Jamie alive in the process).

Finally, if anyone out there is in or near Chicago in a couple of weeks we could use a hand - and a few good signs. I'm Peggy, and I'm posting this shout out all over the country - please contact us if you might be in a position to do an action there. My email is prisonabolitionist@gmail.com.

Enjoy the reunion...

----------------------------

Greetings all,

Mrs. Rasco just returned from visiting with Jamie and Gladys and wanted everyone to have an update right away. Jamie no longer has evidence of infection and the boils that were on her body have cleared up. She is, however, still very weak and exhausted from her dialysis and at times during the visit was speaking while her eyes were closed. She told her mother that she wants and needs a kidney transplant.

Thanks to you supporters, Mrs. Rasco was able to get in to visit Gladys!

Mrs. Rasco said that Gladys was so happy to see her that she picked her up off of the ground and kissed her, to the delight of everyone in the visiting room! It was truly a beautiful moment. Gladys' daughter, Courtney, was at first denied due to a claim that she was not on the visiting list. Thanks to the efforts of Sondra Humphrey, Director of MS CURE, Courtney was able to finally visit her mother the following day for one hour. Mrs. Rasco is very, very grateful for her
intervention.

The Scott Sisters are still in need of pro bono legal representation and we are asking for an individual, group or class to please help develop ideas for these women's legal defense. This is incredibly their 16th year on this outrageous charge, the injury just grows each and every day that their lives are hijacked in that place and their children and grandchildren suffer without them.


1. Please purchase t-shirts to help with fund raising efforts!! We need folks to wear them to help raise awareness as we need everyone to begin talking about this case so that no one can say that they have not heard about it.

Visit http://www.radicaljack.com/scsit.html and get yours today!

2. Additionally, both women said that they have practically exhausted their commissary funds and anyone who wishes to donate to the women directly may send donations via http://www.inmatedeposits.com/ , register for Access Corrections and use each of their name and number to make your donation.

Jamie is #19197 and Gladys is #19142.

3. Ask Color of Change to feature the Scott Sisters at http://www.colorofchange.org/, and also copy and paste in an e-mail to: info@colorofchange.org.

Thank you! More updates will come soon!

==============

Please continue to advocate on behalf of Jamie and Gladys Scott, their children and families need for them to return home alive, the time is NOW!

Attorney General Eric Holder
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530-0001
HOTLINE: 202-353-1555
PHONE: 202-514-2000
202-307-6777 fax
AskDOJ@usdoj.gov

Christopher Epps
601-359-5600
CEPPS@mdoc.state.ms.us
723 North President Street
Jackson, MS 39202

Governor Haley Barbour
P.O. Box 139
Jackson, Mississippi 39205
1-877-405-0733 or 601-359-3150
Fax: 601-359-3741
(If you reach VM leave msgs, faxes, and please send letters)

SB 1070: B.A.N. Info Sessions (Southern AZ)

Infórmate, Prepárate, e Únete!
Reminder: Upcoming Information Sessions
Border Action Network
(Acción Fronteriza)
(Busca la segunda parte en Español)

Tucson

- At 6 PM tomorrow (Friday, July 23rd) an immigration attorney from Tucson, Mo Goldman, will speak about the U.S immigration process and answer relevant questions. (Presentation in English with Spanish translation)

- On Saturday, July 31st, at 6:00 PM., B.A.N. member Griselda Moya-Flores will offer a class on basic traffic laws. (Presentation in Spanish with English translation)

Both of these events will take place at the B.A.N. headquarter office at 842 S. 6th Ave (approximately the intersection of 6th Ave. and 19th St.)

Douglas

- At 10 AM on Saturday, July 24th, Immigration Attorney Mo Goldman will speak about the U.S. immigration process and answer relevant questions. This event will take place at St. Stephens Episcopal Church, 749 E. 11th (intersects at D Ave). (Presentation in English with Spanish Translation)

- On Saturday, July 31st, B.A.N. Policy Director Jaime Farrant will present an SB1070 update. Details to come soon. (Presentation in Spanish)

Nogales

- At 5:30 PM on Wednesday, July 28th, there will be an immigration Q&A with attorney Luis Parra. Location information to come soon. (Presentation in Spanish)

Thank you again for your support and we hope you can attend and Inform Yourself, Prepare Yourself, and Unite!




With gratitude,

Border Action Network Staff




Aviso : Sesiones Informativos

Tucson

- Este viernes, 23 de Julio, a las 6:00 de la tarde, abogado de Tucson, Mo Goldman, va a hablar y contestar preguntas sobre el proceso de inmigración en los EEUU. (Presentación en inglés con traducción en español)

- Sábado, 31 de Julio, a las 6 de la tarde, un miembro de nuestra organización, Griselda Moya-Flores va a ofrecer una clase sobre las leyes de tránsito y manejo. (Presentación en español con traducción en inglés)



Los dos de estos eventos van a tener lugar en nuestra oficina en 842 S. 6ta Ave. (la esquina de Ave 6ta y 19th St.) en Tucson, AZ. 


Douglas

- Este sábado, 24 de julio, a las 10 de la mañana, abogado de inmigración Mo Goldman va a hablar y contestar preguntas sobre el proceso de inmigración en los EEUU. Este evento va ser en St. Stephen's Episcopal Church, 739 E. 11th Ave. (cruce con D Ave). (Presentación en inglés con traducción en español)

- Sábado, el 31 de julio, director político de B.A.N. Jaime Farrant presentará las noticias más recientes de SB1070. Tendremos más detalles muy pronto. (Presentación en español)

Nogales

- A las 5:30 por la tarde, habrá una sesión de preguntas y respuestas con abogado Luis Parra. Tendremos información del lugar muy pronto. (Presentación en español)


Muchísimas gracias otra vez por su apoyo, y esperamos que puedan asistir y Infórmate, Prepárate, e Únete!


Con agradecimiento,


Acción Fronteriza

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Don't Buy! Don't Work! Don't Comply!


Forward widely!


(This is a mass conspiracy, folks!)





------------A Calendar of Resistance, from No More Deaths--------------

Greetings,

below are the many ways you can participate in opposing SB1070. As most of you already know, the law is to take effect on Thursday, July 29th. There are lots of things happening in Phoenix over the next week or so. Please forward this e-mail to everyone you know, get out, get involved, voice your outrage!

Represent NMD...wear your NMD t-shirts to these actions!

1. Wednesday, July 21: Training on Non-Violence and Civil Disobedience - 6:00pm

LOCATION: Phoenix Quaker Meeting House (1702 E. Glendale, 17th Street and Glendale)

If you are planning to participate in the National Day of Non-Compliance on the 29th and want to know about the realities of CD, you should come to this training! Get the facts, know your rights, be trained.


2. Thursday, July 22: Injuncion Hearing Against SB1070 - 9:00am

LOCATION: Sandra Day O'Conner Courthouse (401 W. Washington)

This is the day that many of the suits against the Law are being heard. Come to protest outside the courthouse all morning! Bring signs, sunscreen and water!


3. Saturday, July 24: Policing the Police Training - 2-4:00pm

LOCATION: Unlimited Potential (6520 S. Central Ave, three blocks south of Southern)

Sheriff Arpaio has promised to hold another racial profiling sweep on July 29th and/or 30th, as soon as SB 1070 goes into effect. We need to have dozens of volunteers out on the street to monitor and document the activities of the sheriff's deputies on those days. Attend one of these trainings and learn how to safely and legally observe the police during this sweep and in your own neighborhood.



4. Saturday, July 24: Diamondbacks Boycott and Protest - 4:30pm

LOCATION: Meet at Tonatierra (7th Street and McKinley)

Join Puente in thier ongoing boycott and protest of the Diamondbacks. Meet at Tonatierra to walk over to the stadium. Bring your signs!



5. Wednesday, July 28: Prayer Vigil - 6:30pm

LOCATION: at the Capital

There will be an interfaith prayer vigil at the Capital on the eve of the law taking effect. All are welcome!



6. Wednesday, July 28: Policing the Police Training - 7-9:00pm

LOCATION: Phoenix Quaker Meeting House (1702 E. Glendale, 17th Street and Glendale)
(in case you missed the one on July 24th)



7. Wednesday, July 28: La Comunidad Resiste Contra SB1070 - 7-11:30pm

LOCATION: Civic Space Park (424 N. Central Ave)

Join hundreds for a gathering and demonstration downtown!

Bring games, blankets, chairs, instruments, art supplies, friends!

Food and music will be provided!


8. EVENTS ON Thursday, July 29:

Day of Non-Compliance!
Don't Buy! Don't Work! Don't Comply!


- Sunrise Interfaith Prayer Service - 6:30am

LOCATION: Trinity Cathedral (Central and Roosevelt)

- Procession to Federal Courthouse - 9:00am

Procession will begin at the Trinity Cathedral on Central and Roosevelt, right after the prayer service.

Actions, speakers, rally to be held at the Courthouse


- Gathering at Cesar Chavez Plaza (ALL DAY)

Folks will be gathering between the Courthouse and Cesar Chavez Plaza (across from the courthouse) all day. Come out with your signs, bring water, and sunscreen!

Add your name to the fight: Repeal SB 1070



Greetings NMD volunteers!

We need your help!

NMD-Phoenix is working with the Repeal Coalition to begin a yard sign campaign opposing SB 1070.

Specifically, we're going to target businesses that will publicly oppose 1070 and place the yard signs in their windows.

We will give/sell yard signs to individuals to place in their yard. Also, churches will take them and give to their members.


Here is where we need NMD volunteers to help:

1. Come to an organizing meeting on Friday night to discuss the logistics of campaign.
- We will meet at my house (Laura's house) located at 1633 E. Willetta Street
- Meet at 5:00pm

2. Volunteers are needed on Saturday morning!
- We will meet at 9:00am to visit businesses and ask for their support, give yard signs, have them sign petition/pledge.
- we will meet at Tonatierra to distribute signs and give you locations to visit

We really need everyone's help in getting the community involved.

If you cannot attend either meeting, but can visit a business, or know of a church that will take the yard signs and display them, let me know!

We've ordered 100 signs to distribute across the valley.

Call me to pick up signs ($3 donation)

HELP! Please let us know in what capacity you can help.

Thanks,
laura


--
Laura Ilardo
No More Deaths-Phoenix
(602)818-5447
www.my.calendars.net/nomoredeaths

Sheriff Joe disses PHX New Times

In my book, that means they're doing something right, and everyone else is colluding.


---------------------------------

‘Section 1070′ tent city expansion to unveil July 21

Capitol Times
July 20th, 2010

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio announced July 20 that he will be opening a new section of his tent city jail, just for those convicted under Arizona’s new immigration law. The new section of the outdoor jail will be called “section 1070,” according to a Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman.

The new section will be arranged inside the existing tent city area in south Phoenix, since expanding the boundaries of tent city would require approval from the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, with which the sheriff has had high-profile public fights involving budget issues.

But the board of supervisors told the Arizona Capitol Times before Arpaio’s announcement that any changes to tent city would need to meet safety and liability requirements, and that despite his assertion that he gets the final say on what happens at his jail, the board needs to provide the proper checks on his practices.

Arpaio will hold a press conference to formally announce and display his tent city addition at 3 p.m. July 21. The announcement coincides with the 17-year anniversary of the opening of tent city. The sheriff’s office will be giving “hot chocolate cake” to all the inmates to celebrate the anniversary. A spokeswoman for the sheriff’s office said all media except the Phoenix New Times is welcome.

Revolutionary Communist Party on the 4th of July.

A few weeks ago I attended the anti-4th of July picnic held in Phoenix by the Revolutionary Communist Party. I think I even posted a little promo to it for them, in case anyone else was interested in seeing what they were up to.

I hadn't heard of them before they took such an interest in AZ's immigration law. While socializing before the rally I found that most people there - primarily new recruits attracted by the "revolutionary" language and their defiance of SB 1070 - were talking about their own feelings regarding fascism, racism, social activism, and their decision to get involved in what only the Revolutionary Communist Party now is calling Arizona's "Freedom Summer". I had already been identifying with the concept of Freedom Summer here myself simply because the original one was the season I was born into, in 1964. I didn't know they were the only ones calling it that by then - to everyone else this is the Summer of Human Rights (or anything but what the RCP brands it).

It did become clear to me as soon as I walked onto the scene that if I had done my homework I would have included my own disclaimer with their announcement, if I posted it at all. Everywhere I looked there were posters with the image of their self-appointed leader, Bob Avakian, most of them done in a stenciled style that seemed to visually set him up to someday be placed alongside Marx and Lenin as one of the "great" communists in history. It created an eerie, cult-like aura to the gathering, and I quickly tuned into the fact that my brain was being exposed to a whole lot of washing. Still, I was quite curious, so I hung out for the main show - the recruiting speech.

I had corresponded a couple of times beforehand with Nina, a young organizer who came out here with a small group of them from California, I believe. They seemed a bit fanatical, but well-intended, so I thought I'd check them out in person. It had become clear to me by then that the radical community here wasn't the least bit interested, however. In fact, they've been very vocally perturbed about their presence and efforts to build more of a following, so I wasn't surprised that I didn't see any friendly faces there from the local left.

The Phoenix Class War Council did a pretty thorough critical analysis of the group (worth reading) and their current campaign a few days after their picnic (itself a propaganda-laden recruiting tool for disillusioned young minds as much as it was a rallying cry for those already converted). I'm sure glad they didn't come after me, too, for giving the RCP any of my space here. I give space to a wide variety of left-leaning groups, and while I find the party line and leadership disturbing, I also found the individual people involved to be sincere and earnest about making a positive difference in the world. They just seem to be under some kind of spell.

The only person I really grilled about the RCP's message and leadership was Nina, because she was clearly well-indoctrinated and believed in what she was doing with them with all her heart. In fact, I think she said she writes much of their paper, which makes her responsible for a lot of propaganda. I questioned her about how any organization can be democratic or even communist if it's run by a self-appointed authoritarian. I thought that mimicked the worst mistakes ever made by communist parties - they were essentially under totalitarian rule. There is no democratic process at work - it's all "follow the leader". This Avakian guy struck me as nothing more than an intellectual, self-promoting, grandstanding dictator who gets idealistic and exhuberant youth to raise his money and push his ideology onto other kids.

That troubled me, seeing how many youth had shown up who had probably never been involved in a movement like this before, and were drawn to their talk of "revolution". Many were young people of color - Latino, Native American, Black, Asian American - I was really kind of impressed with the diversity they attracted. I frankly think that revolution requires open minds and a healthy exchange of ideas, though - not a descent into one man's doctrine and ideology that seeks to be the dominant influence. There doesn't seem to be much room for doubting whether or not he's right. That leads to living in chains of a different kind, not to liberation. And how can you help free others if you can't even free your own mind?

I have to say that I don't remember what Nina's responses to my questions and observations were, because she sounded like the propaganda in the literature so often. I left wishing she would walk away with me, but didn't extend that particular invitation to her, thinking it would just be insulting. She's a bright woman, very passionate about social justice I believe, and is doing what she feels is the right thing to do for the resistance here in Arizona. She also keeps hanging in there despite the resistance she gets from both the right and the left - I kind of respect that, though I disagree with what the ideology she defends. I just think Avakian is exploiting the tragedy here to build himself more of a following, and making good kids do all his dirty work for him - his "cause" is definitely not the same as ours. He appears to be his own cause.

If that's not accurate, then he and his people better look again at their messaging, because Avakian, not the people of Arizona, was very much the center of attention at the picnic, even in his absence. All the books are by him, about his own ideas. His face was everywhere. His people were singing his praises, reciting doctrine and dogma. There was something about the event that made me feel like I'd just walked into the Church of Scientology, in fact. How is that revolutionary?

So, for those of you who thought my posting of their picnic news or an article they did on Nina Simone means I think we should all hop on board their train, think again. Anyone who knows me should know that's one train I'd let pass on by - I'm just not here to derail it because there are still other people inside. They're going to have find their own way home from wherever it leads them. I hope when they decide to so, the rest of the radical community will be here for them with open arms...

I'll be here, anyway, my friends - not for the party, just for the people.

Race, Space and the Production of Inequality.

This is a great new course coming open at ASU - I've heard that the professor, Wendy Cheng, is dynamite, and it comes recommended by HLT Quan, one of the best out there. She take this stuff very seriously and doesn't give out endorsements lightly.

Just from the brief description provided, it looks like Cheng does a pretty sophisticated analysis of the topic. What I find most interesting are her plans to explore how national boundaries/borders are erected and what structures (including racism) reinforce them.
So, if I can get ASU to let me back for the fall, I'm going to try to enroll myself - I only need one more upper level Justice Studies class to graduate.

For those of you lucky enough to do so, sign up soon - I think classes are less than three weeks away now.


---------------------------------

JUS 394*: Race, Space and the Production of Inequality (LN 75829)
Tue/Thurs 3:00 – 4:15 pm
Instructor: Prof. Wendy Cheng


This course is an introduction to critical scholarship on race and space in the United States.
We will (re)consider definitions of race and racism, and how the intertwining of race and differential access to space has shaped patterns of power and inequality
throughout the history of the U.S.

We pay special attention to the making and maintenance of national boundaries;
regional histories; spatial typologies within metropolitan areas; and the differential racialization of Asian Americans, Latinas/os, African Americans, and Native Americans.
Readings and discussion are organized in part around key spatial typologies
such as border, ghetto, suburb, and prison.

*

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Policing the Police: Next week's COPWATCH training

Hey all: here's the info for the training on the 28th, before the racial-profiling activities planned by Arpaio and the MCSO once SB 1070 goes into effect. We really need people to turn out for the trainings so you can come on patrol on the 30th. If you can't make it this weekend, head out to this one next week. It's a good training with great people and it's a way to really make a difference. Showing up with your own video camera is a bonus, but you don't have to be out there shooting any deputies - you just need to be diplomatic and take good notes.

After you're done with the training, come join us at Civic Space Park (424 N. Central Ave, where the New Fair Trade Cafe is) - we'll be having a rally to gear up for the 29th.

See you out there.
-----------------------------------

Phoenix Copwatch

If you can't be there, or if you're already trained, please share this with anyone who might possibly be interested! We need dozens of volunteers for that day.

Location:

Phoenix Friends Meeting House
(Also the locale for Fiddler's Dream Coffee House)
1702 E Glendale Ave
Phoenix, AZ 85020


Time:


7:00PM
Wednesday, July 28th

PHX COPWATCH Training coming up

This training will be on a Saturday afternoon to accommodate folks who couldn't make the weekday trainings. Please spread this far and wide. And if you can't make this one, there will still be one on July 28th.


Location:

Unlimited Potential
6520 S Central
Phoenix, Arizona 85040

Time:

2:00PM
Saturday, July 24th

Africa Today with Marilyn Buck

What an amazing woman. Click on the KPFA icon for the interview (mp3 file). There's also an interview with her attorney, Jill Soffiyah Elijah (a pretty incredible woman herself) at the website for the Friends of Marilyn Buck.

After all that, you should head over to kerspledebeb to sample the CD of her poetry from prison, Wild Poppies. She reads a handful herself, but most are read by other people from around the world who were themselves political prisoners. My favorites are probably "Thirteen Springs" and one that isn't with the samples, "To Vieques, in Solidarity" (which is read in both English and Spanish - the Spanish version is the most beautiful).

Finally, I'm so sure that you'll want to buy a copy for yourself - and a couple to have on hand as Christmas gifts - that I'm giving you that link too. Enjoy.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Indictment of AETA 4 unconstitutional. YAY!

Note that state charges can still be brought, though...

-------------------------------------------

Animal Rights Activists Win Dissent Victory

by: Bill Quigley and Rachel Meeropol, t r u t h o u t | Op-Ed

photo

(Photo: TimWilson; Edited: Jared Rodriguez / t r u t h o u t)

Police reports state that on October 21, 2007, a group of about 20 people trespassed onto the front lawn of the home of a Berkeley professor involved in bio-medical research on animals. According to the US government, some of the protesters had bandanas covering the lower half of their faces and they made "a lot of noise, chanting animal rights slogans" like "1,2,3,4, open up the cage door; 5,6,7,8, smash the locks and liberate, 9,10,11,12, vivisectors go to hell."

A year and a half later, four young activists were indicted in California federal court under the little known and rarely used "Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act" (AETA) for their alleged involvement in this and others pickets.

The federal criminal indictment charged Joseph Buddenberg, Maryam Khajavi, Nathan Pope and Adriana Stumpo (now the AETA 4) with one count of "animal enterprise terrorism," and one count of conspiracy. They each would face 10 years in prison if convicted.

Strangely, the criminal indictment against them doesn't actually say anything about their chants or leaflets, or what else they are supposed to have done to violate the law.

There is some good news here. On July 12, 2010, a federal judge threw out that indictment, explaining that is was so general and vague it failed to provide the defendants with notice of what criminal act they are accused of committing, a constitutional requirement.

In his order, Judge Ronald M. Whyte described the indictment as "quite generic." For "an indictment to fulfill its constitutional purposes," he explained, "it must allege facts that sufficiently inform each defendant of what it is he or she is alleged to have done that constitutes a crime. This is particularly important where the species of behavior in question spans a wide spectrum from criminal conduct to constitutionally protected political protest." According to the judge's ruling, the government can re-indict these activists if it makes the charges much more specific.

AETA prosecutions are not your average criminal cases. Trespass, threats, harassment -- these are all activities that violate state law and carry criminal penalties. And any violence by activists, of course, can also be punished under state law.

The animal rights and radical environmental movements aren't violent against people. The alleged illegal action that has occurred within those groups has primarily been the type of time-honored nonviolent civil disobedience Martin Luther King Jr. made famous, although there has been some property destruction.

If no one is hurt, how can the government prosecute these kinds of acts as terrorism? Simple. First reward rapacious corporate interests with an incredibly broad federal law that equates any action that hurts the bottom line of a corporation with "terrorism." Then issue generic indictments calling picketers terrorists, without explaining what they actually did. That is what happened to the AETA 4.

This governmental tactic can drive those few activists who actually commit serious illegal acts far underground, while terrifying the mainstream movements into silence.

The AETA 4 ruling is a rare victory for animal rights and environmental activists, whose communities are under a Cointelpro-style attack in what has come to be known as the "green scare."

Recent victims of this kind of governmental prosecution include the "SHAC7," activists who ran a website documenting both lawful and unlawful protest activities undertaken in the campaign against animal testing by Huntington Life Sciences.

The SHAC 7 were convicted of "terrorism" under the precursor to the AETA, the Animal Enterprise Protection Act, (AEPA) despite the fact that none of them was accused, much less convicted, of doing anything other than commenting on others' legal and illegal actions.

Also threatened with jail time under the AEPA is Scott Demuth, a young activist who defied an Iowa grand jury subpoena and was promptly charged with animal enterprise terrorism. His indictment is so vague and far-reaching that it seems designed to hold him accountable for every act of property destruction attributed to animal rights activists over two years and across several states.

While animal rights and environmental activists are the main targets of these new laws equating protest with terrorism, the law could potentially be applied to anyone who protests anything, and does it effectively.

The AETA defines an "animal enterprise" to include any business that deals in animal research or uses or sells animal products. You can be accused of violating the law by traveling across state lines (or using the internet) to purposefully cause economic damage (like lost profits) to an animal enterprise. That is why CCR and other activist organizations are challenging these laws.

Environmental and animal rights groups are organizing against this law and against the green scare in general. Activists from other movements need to join them.

Attacks by government on our human and civil rights are always first directed at people on the margins who do not have widespread popular support. Animal and environmental activists are the ones under attack today. Unless we stand up and vigorously protect their rights to dissent, others, including us, will be certainly be next.

The Center for Constitutional Rights is involved in several of these battles, and updates are always available on our web site, at www.ccrjustice.org; or learn about the latest prosecutions by visiting the Civil Liberties Defense Center's web site, at www.cldc.org.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Lessons in liberation: ACTing UP.

From the UNSHACKLE list-serve, well worth joining. This comes off of the AIDS and Social Justice blog at Wordpress. It's high time we start acting up, too, in our fight for prisoners affected by Hep C...

-----------------------------

Che Gossett on AIDS activist Kiyoshi Kuromiya’s legacy and the intersections between all movements for liberation

At Movements For Change, an event in honor of Kiyoshi Kuromiya on June 10th in Philadelphia, student activist Che Gossett incited a room of sleep-deprived AIDS activists to shouts and tears, reminding us why we are doing this work and inspiring us toward new ways of doing it. The event was hosted by longtime activist Chris Bartlett at the Church of St. Luke and The Epiphany, where ACT UP Philadelphia meets each Monday night at 6pm, and strategized for the future while remembering Kiyoshi, a beloved member of ACT UP who died 10 years ago.

“Kiyoshi believed in intersectionality long before that was a term people used,” Chris said in his opening remarks. “He brought what he learned from the Civil Rights, Gay Liberation and other movements to all of the work he did, and wherever people struggled for human rights and dignity, he was there.”

Che generously shared the text of their talk with us here. Enjoy!

“The white middle-class outlook of the earlier [homophile] groups, which thought that everything in America would be fine if people only treated homosexuals better, wasn’t what we were all about…We wanted to stand with the poor, with women, with people of color, with the antiwar people, to bring the whole corrupt thing down.”[1] Kiyoshi Kuromiya

This quote, especially the call to stand with the poor, women, people of color, anti-war people and for a radical alternative is what, in my understanding, animated Kiyoshi’s life. To me, it represents the core of his legacy and stands as an imperative for discussions of the future.

My talk is supposed to be about the future of gay rights, but how do we talk about a future that, as defined by homo-normative groups and political formations like the HRC [Human Rights Campaign], neither centers nor sometimes even includes those categories Kiyoshi mentions — women (trans and non trans), the poor and people of color? How can we hold a mirror up to a future in which we are not reflected? How is it that we, as queer and transgender people of color are evacuated and disappeared from a future we helped to create?

The Lawrence v. Texas legal decision that struck down sodomy laws has been heralded by gay rights groups, yet it is haunted by the racial violence of its past — the legal basis for the police invasion of Lawrence’s apartment was not “consensual sodomy,” but a false report of a weapons disturbance — the Harris County police dispatcher was called and told, “There’s a nigger going crazy with a gun.”[2] How is it that this racialized past now exists as a sign of a post-racial queer future? In which gay rights are the new civil rights, and the civil rights battles of the 60s have been won? How did we move from gay and trans liberation to queer neoliberalism? From gay anti-capitalism to the depoliticized neoliberal gay market niche? How did we get from the gay anti-imperialism of the Gay Liberation Front, the Philadelphia chapter of which Kiyoshi and Basil O’Brien created in May of 1970[3], to homonationalism — the marriage and military rhetoric — of today? Why, instead of fighting US imperialism, and standing in solidarity with anti-occupation struggles and against political repression, such as the recent Israeli military attack on the Gaza aid flotillas — are queers rushing to join wars rather than protest police and state violence?

In light of this political context, it’s all the more imperative that Kiyoshi’s legacy and the force of the quote be held out as a beacon with which to guide our collective, empowered and self-determined queer and transgender liberationist and feminist futures.

Kiyoshi was born in prison — an internment camp — in 1943, and he never stopped trying to “get free.” For most queer and transgender people of color, prison and police are a defining feature of reality. For many low income, no-income and houseless, queer and trans people of color, the distance between prisons and pride parades is not a chasm but instead, overlapping terrain. This is the terrain upon which prisoner justice, trans justice and abolitionist organizations — Institute for Community Justice, Transforming Justice, Critical Resistance, Hearts on a Wire and Prison Health News — operate in struggle. This is the political terrain, the ground on which ACT UP Philadelphia launched a campaign to decriminalize condoms in Philly jails, took over the BETAK nursing home so that people living with AIDS could have residential space, started an extra-legal needle exchange, and it’s the ground where ACT UP continues their fight against the criminalization and stigmatization of HIV/AIDS. This ground — St. Luke’s Church, is sacred ground, not in a religious sense, but in an activist sense, in a loss and mourning sense, in a memory sense and in a strength and hope sense.

The criminalization of HIV/AIDS was not limited to Reagan’s neoliberal regime, where the President’s Commission on HIV/AIDS funded only those states with criminal disclosure laws, but is happening presently, through the prosecution of black gay men as pathogenic and bio-terroristic threats, ranging from Gregory Smith to Daniel Allen. In November of 2009, Daniel Allen, a black gay Michigan resident, was charged with “bio-terrorism” for the “use of a harmful biological device,” his own (non-HIV-transmissible) saliva.[4] Segregation of incarcerated HIV positive people continues today, legally, in the South in states such as Alabama — the same state that is sending incarcerated people to clean up the BP oil spill[5] — and in Mississippi.[6] The stigmatization of HIV positive incarcerated people, many queer and transgender and of color, is not a new feature of the carceral apparatus, but only a current instance of a long and sordid historical pattern that dates back not only to 1974 when lesbians and gays (and those presumed to be) incarcerated in Florida’s Polk County Jail were segregated from the general population and made to wear pink bracelets, but also to the violence of the Holocaust and the Nazi pink triangle.[7] Reagan’s endorsement of HIV disclosure penalization statutes coincided with his allegiance to the continuing racialized “War on Drugs,” which emerged during the Nixon administration and extended throughout the Reagan and later Clinton presidency as where we get the “Three Strikes” law. The growth of the prison industrial complex, the assemblage of laws criminalizing HIV and addiction, all overlapped with and was underpinned by neoliberal economic policy in the 1980s and 90s.

Yet in the 70s, radical queer organizations organized in prison while being supported on the outside. In 1977, the George Jackson Brigade at Walla Walla prison founded a group that condemned sexual violence against gays. At New Jersey’s Rahway State Prison, the “Gayworld Organization” was formed, and the “Self-Help Alliance Group” (SHAG) was formed at Angola prison in 1984.[8]

This history of this overlapping and cross-movement participation traces back to the Black Panthers’ Revolutionary Peoples’ Convention held at Temple University in 1970. The convention represented a convergence of movements, for gay liberation, women’s liberation and third world and people of color liberation, that are usually seen as separate. A week before the convention, Philadelphia police, led by commissioner Frank Rizzo, raided the offices of the Black Panther Party and publicly forced several Panthers to strip naked at gunpoint, to be photographed by the Philadelphia Inquirer. “Imagine the big Black Panthers with their pants down”[9] Rizzo was quoted as saying — and to me, what Roland Barthes calls the “punctum”[10] of the photograph, or the part that pierces, is that in it, and in their act of police violence, the psychic humiliation of slavery and the auction block resurfaces in the image of the stripped black body.

Yet even in the face of this repression, 10,000 to 15,000 people attended the convention. Radical queer organizations from across the nation, inspired by Huey P. Newton’s August 21st “Letter to the Revolutionary Brothers and Sisters about the Women’s and Gay Liberation Movement,” published in the Black Panther newspaper, attended. Ortez Alderson, a gay black man and leader in the Chicago Gay Liberation Front and Third World Gay Revolutionaries drafted the “Working Paper for the Revolutionary People’s Constitutional Convention,” which outlined a radical anti-racist and anti-homophobic philosophy. Kiyoshi Kuromiya spoke at Temple University’s McGonigle Hall representing the “Male Homosexual Workshop.”[11] Afeni Shakur spoke to a workshop run by the Radical Lesbians. Trans justice activist Sylvia Rivera participated and met with Huey P. Newton. Inspired by gay liberationist activism, two London School of Economics students who attended and likely saw Kiyoshi speak, went back to London and started their own Gay Liberation Front. (I’m currently researching overlap and tension between the London GLF and the British Black Panthers — one member was the radical black feminist and squatter activist Olive Morris). Following the People’s Convention, Ortez Alderson was arrested for breaking into an Illinois draft board and was incarcerated for a year, first at Peoria County Jail for three months, and then he was transferred to a prison in Ashland County, Kentucky. While imprisoned in Kentucky, Alderson and three other queer men of color attempted to form a gay liberation chapter. In a 1972 interview with Motive Magazine titled “On Being Black, Gay and In Prison: There is No Humanity,” Alderson recounted his experience and activism inside:

What I’m trying to relate is the experience of how it was for me as a black and as a gay man to be within the jail system of America…The confrontation came on Gay Pride Day, June 28th, because we wanted to have a Gay Day celebration in prison. The prison officials said we could not have this celebration. At this point, we got up a petition attacking the institution’s discrimination against homosexuals. Craig, Green, Davis and myself were immediately arrested by the goon squad and put in the hole..[12]

Alderson would go on to become a central figure in both NYC[13] and Chicago ACT UP chapters.

I think one crucial dimension of the struggle to disrupt and heal from the historical trauma and violence of COINTELPRO, the FBI war on the black liberation movement — the MOVE bombing of 1985 and police raids targeting Revolutionary Action Movement in the 60s — and the government surveillance and infiltration of national queer organizations such as the Gay Activist Alliance, Gay Liberation Front and more recently ACT UP Philadelphia, the dismantling of welfare and the rise of the prison industrial complex, the criminalization of HIV/AIDS, institutionalized transphobia, racism, sexism — is to, as the movie and the principle “Sankofa,” suggests — “go back and fetch it” — to remember our history, our struggle, our survival, our fierce and fabulous power. Sankofa is an Akan word, often pictured as a bird with its head stretched backwards, and symbolizes a return to the past as a way to be self-determined and whole in the future. What happens when your past has been denied, suppressed and disappeared in history books and in academic institutions by those who operate as what Gramsci called “experts in legitimation”? Kiyoshi’s legacy and the intersectional nature of his involvement in civil rights, black power and queer liberation movements is a direct refutation of that violence.

Cornel West often talks about the etymology of the word human, and the Latin word “humando,” which means “burying.”[14] Sitting amongst Kiyoshi’s life work collected in over 50 boxes in the William Way Center, I felt an overwhelming combination of humanity and humility — my own humanity and humility in the face of Kiyoshi’s life work, and the force of his enduring humanity and courageous humility. That is what I feel now in this room of people here to honor him, it’s what I feel in the sense of collective possibility that emerges when community members come together for radical change. Sitting in that room, surround by artifacts — symbols and representations, Kiyoshi’s pictures and files — his presence was substantive, his historical importance for queer and trans people of color’s history, is indelible, striking and symbolic — just like the lighting bolt and clap of thunder that cut through the sky when he passed.[15] What humanity and what humility! I am proud to say how much he meant to me, even though I never physically met him. His presence is as real as ever, and I want to personally thank him for all of his untiring work, to thank those here who knew him in life and cared for him towards the time of his death, to thank those who carry on Kiyoshi’s legacy, to thank those who fight to open up spaces and horizons of radical futurity we can all be a part of.

[1] Highleyman, L. (2007, May 4). “Who Was Kiyoshi Kuromiya?”. Seattle Gay News . Seattle, Washington, United States of America., p. 30

[2] Eng, D. L. (2010). The Feeling of Kinship: Queer Liberalism and the Racialization of Intimacy. Durham, NC: Duke University Press., p. 36

[3] Stein, M. (2004). City of Brotherly and Sisterly Loves. Philadelphia: Temple University Press., p.316

[4] Heywood, T. A. (2009, November 17). “HIV-as-terrorism case could make legal waves”. The Michigan Messenger .

[5] Ferrara, D. (2010, May 29). Prisoners hired in oil relief efforts, trained for hazardous materials work. Retrieved June 9, 2010, from AL.com: http://blog.al.com/live/2010/05/prisoners_hired_in_oil_relief.html

[6] ACLU. (2010). Sentenced to Stigma. Washington, DC: ACLU., p.10

[7] Welch, M. (2005). Ironies of Imprisonment. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE., p. 65

[8] Kunzel, R. (2008). Criminal Intimacy. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press., p. 122

[9] Hevesi, D. (1991, July 17). Frank Rizzo of Philadelphia Dies at 70; A ‘Hero’ and ‘Villain’. The New York Times , pp. pgs. 1-2.

[10] Barthes, R. (1980). Camera Lucida. New York City: Hill and Wang., p. 26

[11] Teal, D. (1995). The Gay Militants/How Gay Liberation Began in America, 1969-1971. New York City: St. Martin’s Press., p. 171

[12] Alderson, O. (1972). “On Being Black and Gay In Prison: There is No Humanity”. Motive Magazine.

[13] Thanks to Mark Harrington for informing me of Ortez Alderson’s participation in ACT UP NYC on June 10th at the “Remembering Kiyoshi Kuromiya” gathering at St. Luke’s Church in Philadelphia PA.

[14] West, C. (2000). The Cornel West Reader. New York City: Basic Books., p. 551

[15] Sosa, A. (2010, June 11). Remembering Kiyoshi Kuromiya, Kiyoshi Video. (M. Seaman, Producer, & Mighty Head Entertainment/Philadelphia Fight) Retrieved June 12, 2010, from Philadelphia FIGHT: http://www.fight.org/subsection_1.php?cat=1&sec=18%E2%8A%82=4&sub_1=109

SB 1070 Resistance: Legal Observer Training

Summer of Human Rights

Legal Observer Training

Tuesday July 20th
6:00 pm – 7:00 pm

Carol Sobel
National Lawyers Guild

For anyone interested in doing Legal Observing

to support the struggle for Human Rights in AZ

Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Phoenix (UUCP)
4027 East Lincoln Drive
Paradise Valley, AZ 85253

(Three miles east of the AZ 51 freeway / 1 mile west of N. Tatum Boulevard)

Legal Observers needed:

*July 22nd rally at Sandra Day O’connor Federal Court House 401 W. Washington St. The day of the hearing for the lawsuit against SB1070

*July 29th National Day of Non-Compliance (also July 28th and July 30th)

*Future Rallies and Actions

Infórmate, Prepárate, e Únete!: SB 1070 Tucson Events

Border Action Network Supporters:

SB 1070 is scheduled to come into effect on July 29th. Border Action Network has scheduled the following events in preparation for the implementation of this law. We invite you and whoever you think would be interested to attend!

First on Saturday, July 17th from 10:00 a.m to 12:00 noon, Border Action Network's Policy Director Jaime Farrant will hold an update on the legal situation of SB 1070 and brief us on the most recent news.

Second, on Friday, July 23rd, at 6:00 p.m, an immigration attorney from Tucson, Mo Goldman, will speak about the U.S immigration process and answer relevant questions.

Third, on Saturday, July 31st, at 6:00 p.m., B.A.N. member Griselda Moya-Flores will offer a class on basic traffic laws.

All of these
events will take place at the B.A.N headquarters office at 842 S. 6th Ave (approximately the intersection of 6th Ave and 19th St) in Tucson, AZ.

Thank you so much for support! We hope you can attend and Inform Yourself, Prepare Yourself, and Unite!

With gratitude,

Border Action Network Staff

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Apoyantes de Acción Fronteriza:

La ley SB 1070 se va a poner en efecto el 29 de Julio. Acción Fronteriza ha programado tres eventos en preparación para la implementación de la ley. Los invitamos a ustedes y sus familiares y amistades que estén interesados en asistir!

Primero, sábado, 17 de Julio, de las 10:00 de la mañana al mediodía, nuestro Director de la Política Jaime ofrecerá una plática sobre las noticias más recientes de la ley SB 1070.

Segundo, el próximo viernes, 23 de Julio, a las 6:00 de la tarde, abogado de Tucson, Mo Goldman, va a hablar y contestar preguntas sobre el proceso de inmigración en los EEUU.

Finalmente, sábado, 31 de Julio, a las 6 de la tarde, un miembro de nuestra organización, Griselda Moya-Flores va a ofrecer una clase sobre las leyes de tránsito y manejo.

Todos estos eventos van a tener lugar en nuestra oficina en 842 S. 6ta Ave. (la esquina de Ave 6ta y 19th St.) en Tucson, AZ.

Muchísimas gracias por todo su apoyo! Esperamos que puedan asistir y Infórmate, Prepárate, e Únete!

Con agradecimiento,

Acción Fronteriza

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Lessons from the RNC: Misogyny and state violence against radical movements.


Came across the article below late last night in my research, but can't for the life of me remember how I found it, so if someone turned me onto it, thank you. It's long, but worth posting in it's entirety so you can spread it around. If you're part of the Movement and you twitter, tweet the link everywhere you can.


The website for INCITE! is an incredible resource for abolitionists and others interested in ending violence against all women and communities, though it originated in the movement by and for women of color. INCITE! has the most well-articulated statement about prison abolition I've read anywhere - developed in collaboration with Critical Resistance in Oakland - which addresses state, corporate, and interpersonal violence (Order the poster on it for free).

Check out their section on the
prison industrial complex - give yourself a couple of hours to do so, too. There's a whole gallery of political artwork, too. And no liberation library is complete without their two volumes of collected works: "The Color of Violence...", and "The Revolution will not be Funded...". I recognize some of the principles of anarchy in their work, though I don't think they ever identify it as a political creed of theirs - they have a pretty complex but well-founded and argued position that goes beyond traditional concepts of anarchy, I think.


That said, here's the article I wanted to share. Most practicing anarchists will recognize the story about the informant, Brandon Darby, right away, due to the FBI set-up of activists protesting the 2008 Republican National Convention, including the RNC8 gang that the Phoenix Anarchists have supported. The analysis of the dynamics at work is new, however - new to me, anyway. The article just came out this spring.

Ricardo Levins Morales
Art for social justice


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Why Misogynists Make Great Informants: How Gender Violence on the Left Enables State Violence in Radical Movements

July 15, 2010
by inciteblog

Originally published in make/shift magazine

Some people may have seen this article already, which has been making its rounds on Facebook and the blogosphere, but INCITE! blog editors loved it so much that we wanted to share it here. The piece was originally published in make/shift magazine’s Spring/Summer 2010 issue and written by Courtney Desiree Morris.

In January 2009, activists in Austin, Texas, learned that one of their own, a white activist named Brandon Darby, had infiltrated groups protesting the Republican National Convention (RNC) as an FBI informant. Darby later admitted to wearing recording devices at planning meetings and during the convention. He testified on behalf of the government in the February 2009 trial of two Texas activists who were arrested at the RNC on charges of making and possessing Molotov cocktails, after Darby encouraged them to do so. The two young men, David McKay and Bradley Crowder, each faced up to fifteen years in prison. Crowder accepted a plea bargain to serve three years in a federal prison; under pressure from federal prosecutors, McKay also pled guilty to being in possession of “unregistered Molotov cocktails” and was sentenced to four years in prison. Information gathered by Darby may also have contributed to the case against the RNC 8, activists from around the country charged with “conspiracy to riot and conspiracy to damage property in the furtherance of terrorism.” Austin activists were particularly stunned by the revelation that Darby had served as an informant because he had been a part of various leftist projects and was a leader at Common Ground Relief, a New Orleans–based organization committed to meeting the short-term needs of community members displaced by natural disasters in the Gulf Coast region and dedicated to rebuilding the region and ensuring Katrina evacuees’ right to return.

I was surprised but not shocked by this news. I had learned as an undergrad at the University of Texas that the campus police department routinely placed plainclothes police officers in the meetings of radical student groups—you know, just to keep an eye on them. That was in fall 2001. We saw the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, watched a cowboy president wage war on terror, and, in the middle of it all, tried to figure out what we could do to challenge the fascist state transformations taking place before our eyes. At the time, however, it seemed silly that there were cops in our meetings—we weren’t the Panthers or the Brown Berets or even some of the rowdier direct-action anti-globalization activists on campus (although we admired them all); we were just young people who didn’t believe war was the best response to the 9/11 attacks. But it wasn’t silly; the FBI does not dismiss political work. Any organization, be it large or small, can provoke the scrutiny of the state. Perhaps your organization poses a large threat, or maybe you’re small now but one day you’ll grow up and be too big to rein in. The state usually opts to kill the movement before it grows.

And informants and provocateurs are the state’s hired gunmen. Government agencies pick people that no one will notice. Often it’s impossible to prove that they’re informants because they appear to be completely dedicated to social justice. They establish intimate relationships with activists, becoming friends and lovers, often serving in leadership roles in organizations. A cursory reading of the literature on social movements and organizations in the 1960s and 1970s reveals this fact. The leadership of the American Indian Movement was rife with informants; it is suspected that informants were also largely responsible for the downfall of the Black Panther Party, and the same can be surmised about the antiwar movement of the 1960s and 1970s. Not surprisingly, these movements that were toppled by informants and provocateurs were also sites where women and queer activists often experienced intense gender violence, as the autobiographies of activists such as Assata Shakur, Elaine Brown, and Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz demonstrate.

Maybe it isn’t that informants are difficult to spot but rather that we have collectively ignored the signs that give them away. To save our movements, we need to come to terms with the connections between gender violence, male privilege, and the strategies that informants (and people who just act like them) use to destabilize radical movements. Time and again heterosexual men in radical movements have been allowed to assert their privilege and subordinate others. Despite all that we say to the contrary, the fact is that radical social movements and organizations in the United States have refused to seriously address gender violence [1] as a threat to the survival of our struggles. We’ve treated misogyny, homophobia, and heterosexism as lesser evils—secondary issues—that will eventually take care of themselves or fade into the background once the “real” issues—racism, the police, class inequality, U.S. wars of aggression—are resolved. There are serious consequences for choosing ignorance. Misogyny and homophobia are central to the reproduction of violence in radical activist communities. Scratch a misogynist and you’ll find a homophobe. Scratch a little deeper and you might find the makings of a future informant (or someone who just destabilizes movements like informants do).

The Makings of an Informant: Brandon Darby and Common Ground

On Democracy Now! Malik Rahim, former Black Panther and cofounder of Common Ground in New Orleans, spoke about how devastated he was by Darby’s revelation that he was an FBI informant. Several times he stated that his heart had been broken. He especially lamented all of the “young ladies” who left Common Ground as a result of Darby’s domineering, aggressive style of organizing. And when those “young ladies” complained? Well, their concerns likely fell on sympathetic but ultimately unresponsive ears—everything may have been true, and after the fact everyone admits how disruptive Darby was, quick to suggest violent, ill-conceived direct-action schemes that endangered everyone he worked with. There were even claims of Darby sexually assaulting female organizers at Common Ground and in general being dismissive of women working in the organization. [2] Darby created conflict in all of the organizations he worked with, yet people were hesitant to hold him accountable because of his history and reputation as an organizer and his “dedication” to “the work.” People continued to defend him until he outed himself as an FBI informant. Even Rahim, for all of his guilt and angst, chose to leave Darby in charge of Common Ground although every time there was conflict in the organization it seemed to involve Darby.

Maybe if organizers made collective accountability around gender violence a central part of our practices we could neutralize people who are working on behalf of the state to undermine our struggles. I’m not talking about witch hunts; I’m talking about organizing in such a way that we nip a potential Brandon Darby in the bud before he can hurt more people. Informants are hard to spot, but my guess is that where there is smoke there is fire, and someone who creates chaos wherever he goes is either an informant or an irresponsible, unaccountable time bomb who can be unintentionally as effective at undermining social-justice organizing as an informant. Ultimately they both do the work of the state and need to be held accountable.
A Brief Historical Reflection on Gender Violence in Radical Movements

Reflecting on the radical organizations and social movements of the 1960s and 1970s provides an important historical context for this discussion. Memoirs by women who were actively involved in these struggles reveal the pervasiveness of tolerance (and in some cases advocacy) of gender violence. Angela Davis, Assata Shakur, and Elaine Brown, each at different points in their experiences organizing with the Black Panther Party (BPP), cited sexism and the exploitation of women (and their organizing labor) in the BPP as one of their primary reasons for either leaving the group (in the cases of Brown and Shakur) or refusing to ever formally join (in Davis’s case). Although women were often expected to make significant personal sacrifices to support the movement, when women found themselves victimized by male comrades there was no support for them or channels to seek redress. Whether it was BPP organizers ignoring the fact that Eldridge Cleaver beat his wife, noted activist Kathleen Cleaver, men coercing women into sex, or just men treating women organizers as subordinated sexual playthings, the BPP and similar organizations tended not to take seriously the corrosive effects of gender violence on liberation struggle. In many ways, Elaine Brown’s autobiography, A Taste of Power: A Black Woman’s Story, has gone the furthest in laying bare the ugly realities of misogyny in the movement and the various ways in which both men and women reproduced and reinforced male privilege and gender violence in these organizations. Her experience as the only woman to ever lead the BPP did not exempt her from the brutal misogyny of the organization. She recounts being assaulted by various male comrades (including Huey Newton) as well as being beaten and terrorized by Eldridge Cleaver, who threatened to “bury her in Algeria” during a delegation to China. Her biography demonstrates more explicitly than either Davis’s or Shakur’s how the masculinist posturing of the BPP (and by extension many radical organizations at the time) created a culture of violence and misogyny that ultimately proved to be the organization’s undoing.

These narratives demystify the legacy of gender violence of the very organizations that many of us look up to. They demonstrate how misogyny was normalized in these spaces, dismissed as “personal” or not as important as the more serious struggles against racism or class inequality. Gender violence has historically been deeply entrenched in the political practices of the Left and constituted one of the greatest (if largely unacknowledged) threats to the survival of these organizations. However, if we pay attention to the work of Davis, Shakur, Brown, and others, we can avoid the mistakes of the past and create different kinds of political community.
The Racial Politics of Gender Violence

Race further complicates the ways in which gender violence unfolds in our communities. In “Looking for Common Ground: Relief Work in Post-Katrina New Orleans as an American Parable of Race and Gender Violence,” Rachel Luft explores the disturbing pattern of sexual assault against white female volunteers by white male volunteers doing rebuilding work in the Upper Ninth Ward in 2006. She points out how Common Ground failed to address white men’s assaults on their co-organizers and instead shifted the blame to the surrounding Black community, warning white women activists that they needed to be careful because New Orleans was a dangerous place. Ultimately it proved easier to criminalize Black men from the neighborhood than to acknowledge that white women and transgender organizers were most likely to be assaulted by white men they worked with. In one case, a white male volunteer was turned over to the police only after he sexually assaulted at least three women in one week. The privilege that white men enjoyed in Common Ground, an organization ostensibly committed to racial justice, meant that they could be violent toward women and queer activists, enact destructive behaviors that undermined the organization’s work, and know that the movement would not hold them accountable in the same way that it did Black men in the community where they worked.

Of course, male privilege is not uniform—white men and men of color are unequal participants in and beneficiaries of patriarchy although they both can and do reproduce gender violence. This disparity in the distribution of patriarchy’s benefits is not lost on women and queer organizers when we attempt to confront men of color who enact gender violence in our communities. We often worry about reproducing particular kinds of racist violence that disproportionately target men of color. We are understandably loath to call the police, involve the state in any way, or place men of color at the mercy of a historically racist criminal (in)justice system; yet our communities (political and otherwise) often do not step up to demand justice on our behalf. We don’t feel comfortable talking to therapists who just reaffirm stereotypes about how fucked-up and exceptionally violent our home communities are. The Left often offers even less support. Our victimization is unfortunate, problematic, but ultimately less important to “the work” than the men of all races who reproduce gender violence in our communities.

Encountering Misogyny on the Left: A Personal Reflection

In the first community group I was actively involved in, I encountered a level of misogyny that I would never have imagined existed in what was supposed to be a radical-people-of-color organization. I was sexually/romantically involved with an older Chicano activist in the group. I was nineteen, an inexperienced young Black activist; he was thirty. He asked me to keep our relationship a secret, and I reluctantly agreed. Later, after he ended the relationship and I was reeling from depression, I discovered that he had been sleeping with at least two other women while we were together. One of them was a friend of mine, another young woman we organized with. Unaware of the nature of our relationship, which he had failed to disclose to her, she slept with him until he disappeared, refusing to answer her calls or explain the abrupt end of their relationship. She and I, after sharing our experiences, began to trade stories with other women who knew and had organized with this man.

We heard of the women who had left a Chicana/o student group and never came back after his lies and secrets blew up while the group was participating in a Zapatista action in Mexico City. The queer, radical, white organizer who left Austin to get away from his abuse. Another white woman, a social worker who thought they might get married only to come to his apartment one evening and find me there. And then there were the ones that came after me. I always wondered if they knew who he really was. The women he dated were amazing, beautiful, kick-ass, radical women that he used as shields to get himself into places he knew would never be open to such a misogynist. I mean, if that cool woman who worked in Chiapas, spoke Spanish, and worked with undocumented immigrants was dating him, he must be down, right? Wrong.

But his misogyny didn’t end there; it was also reflected in his style of organizing. In meetings he always spoke the loudest and longest, using academic jargon that made any discussion excruciatingly more complex than necessary. The academic-speak intimidated people less educated than him because he seemed to know more about radical politics than anyone else. He would talk down to other men in the group, especially those he perceived to be less intelligent than him, which was basically everybody. Then he’d switch gears, apologize for dominating the space, and acknowledge his need to check his male privilege. Ironically, when people did attempt to call him out on his shit, he would feign ignorance—what could they mean, saying that his behavior was masculinist and sexist? He’d complain of being infantilized, refusing to see how he infantilized people all the time. The fact that he was a man of color who could talk a good game about racism and racial-justice struggles masked his abusive behaviors in both radical organizations and his personal relationships. As one of his former partners shared with me, “His radical race analysis allowed people (mostly men but occasionally women as well) to forgive him for being dominating and abusive in his relationships. Womyn had to check their critique of his behavior at the door, lest we lose a man of color in the movement.” One of the reasons it is so difficult to hold men of color accountable for reproducing gender violence is that women of color and white activists continue to be invested in the idea that men of color have it harder than anyone else. How do you hold someone accountable when you believe he is target number one for the state?

Unfortunately he wasn’t the only man like this I encountered in radical spaces—just one of the smarter ones. Reviewing old e-mails, I am shocked at the number of e-mails from men I organized with that were abusive in tone and content, how easily they would talk down to others for minor mistakes. I am more surprised at my meek, diplomatic responses—like an abuse survivor—as I attempted to placate compañeros who saw nothing wrong with yelling at their partners, friends, and other organizers. There were men like this in various organizations I worked with. The one who called his girlfriend a bitch in front of a group of youth of color during a summer encuentro we were hosting. The one who sexually harassed a queer Chicana couple during a trip to México, trying to pressure them into a threesome. The guys who said they would complete a task, didn’t do it, brushed off their compañeras’ demands for accountability, let those women take over the task, and when it was finished took all the credit for someone else’s hard work. The graduate student who hit his partner—and everyone knew he’d done it, but whenever anyone asked, people would just look ashamed and embarrassed and mumble, “It’s complicated.” The ones who constantly demeaned queer folks, even people they organized with. Especially the one who thought it would be a revolutionary act to “kill all these faggots, these niggas on the down low, who are fucking up our children, fucking up our homes, fucking up our world, and fucking up our lives!” The one who would shout you down in a meeting or tell you that you couldn’t be a feminist because you were too pretty. Or the one who thought homosexuality was a disease from Europe.

Yeah, that guy.

Most of those guys probably weren’t informants. Which is a pity because it means they are not getting paid a dime for all the destructive work they do. We might think of these misogynists as inadvertent agents of the state. Regardless of whether they are actually informants or not, the work that they do supports the state’s ongoing campaign of terror against social movements and the people who create them. When queer organizers are humiliated and their political struggles sidelined, that is part of an ongoing state project of violence against radicals. When women are knowingly given STIs, physically abused, dismissed in meetings, pushed aside, and forced out of radical organizing spaces while our allies defend known misogynists, organizers collude in the state’s efforts to destroy us.

The state has already understood a fact that the Left has struggled to accept: misogynists make great informants. Before or regardless of whether they are ever recruited by the state to disrupt a movement or destabilize an organization, they’ve likely become well versed in practices of disruptive behavior. They require almost no training and can start the work immediately. What’s more paralyzing to our work than when women and/or queer folks leave our movements because they have been repeatedly lied to, humiliated, physically/verbally/emotionally/sexually abused? Or when you have to postpone conversations about the work so that you can devote group meetings to addressing an individual member’s most recent offense? Or when that person spreads misinformation, creating confusion and friction among radical groups? Nothing slows down movement building like a misogynist.

What the FBI gets is that when there are people in activist spaces who are committed to taking power and who understand power as domination, our movements will never realize their potential to remake this world. If our energies are absorbed recuperating from the messes that informants (and people who just act like them) create, we will never be able to focus on the real work of getting free and building the kinds of life-affirming, people-centered communities that we want to live in. To paraphrase bell hooks, where there is a will to dominate there can be no justice, because we will inevitably continue reproducing the same kinds of injustice we claim to be struggling against. It is time for our movements to undergo a radical change from the inside out.

Looking Forward: Creating Gender Justice in our Movements

Radical movements cannot afford the destruction that gender violence creates. If we underestimate the political implications of patriarchal behaviors in our communities, the work will not survive.

Lately I’ve been turning to the work of queers/feminists of color to think through how to challenge these behaviors in our movements. I’ve been reading the autobiographies of women who lived through the chaos of social movements debilitated by machismo. I’m revisiting the work of bell hooks, Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, Toni Cade Bambara, Alice Walker, Audre Lorde, Gioconda Belli, Margaret Randall, Elaine Brown, Pearl Cleage, Ntozake Shange, and Gloria Anzaldúa to see how other women negotiated gender violence in these spaces and to problematize neat or easy answers about how violence is reproduced in our communities. Newer work by radical feminists of color has also been incredibly helpful, especially the zine Revolution Starts at Home: Confronting Partner Abuse in Activist Communities, edited by Ching-In Chen, Dulani, and Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha.

But there are many resources for confronting this dilemma beyond books. The simple act of speaking and sharing our truths is one of the most powerful tools we have. I’ve been speaking to my elders, older women of color in struggle who have experienced the things I’m struggling against, and swapping survival stories with other women. In summer 2008 I began doing workshops on ending misogyny and building collective forms of accountability with Cristina Tzintzún, an Austin-based labor organizer and author of the essay “Killing Misogyny: A Personal Story of Love, Violence, and Strategies for Survival.” We have also begun the even more liberating practice of naming our experiences publicly and calling on our communities to address what we and so many others have experienced.

Dismantling misogyny cannot be work that only women do. We all must do the work because the survival of our movements depends on it. Until we make radical feminist and queer political ethics that directly challenge heteropatriarchal forms of organizing central to our political practice, radical movements will continue to be devastated by the antics of Brandon Darbys (and folks who aren’t informants but just act like them). A queer, radical, feminist ethic of accountability would challenge us to recognize how gender violence is reproduced in our communities, relationships, and organizing practices. Although there are many ways to do this, I want to suggest that there are three key steps that we can take to begin. First, we must support women and queer people in our movements who have experienced interpersonal violence and engage in a collective process of healing. Second, we must initiate a collective dialogue about how we want our communities to look and how to make them safe for everyone. Third, we must develop a model for collective accountability that truly treats the personal as political and helps us to begin practicing justice in our communities. When we allow women/queer organizers to leave activist spaces and protect people whose violence provoked their departure, we are saying we value these de facto state agents who disrupt the work more than we value people whose labor builds and sustains movements.

As angry as gender violence on the Left makes me, I am hopeful. I believe we have the capacity to change and create more justice in our movements. We don’t have to start witch hunts to reveal misogynists and informants. They out themselves every time they refuse to apologize, take ownership of their actions, start conflicts and refuse to work them out through consensus, mistreat their compañer@s. We don’t have to look for them, but when we are presented with their destructive behaviors we have to hold them accountable. Our strategies don’t have to be punitive; people are entitled to their mistakes. But we should expect that people will own those actions and not allow them to become a pattern.

We have a right to be angry when the communities we build that are supposed to be the model for a better, more just world harbor the same kinds of antiqueer, antiwoman, racist violence that pervades society. As radical organizers we must hold each other accountable and not enable misogynists to assert so much power in these spaces. Not allow them to be the faces, voices, and leaders of these movements. Not allow them to rape a compañera and then be on the fucking five o’ clock news. In Brandon Darby’s case, even if no one suspected he was an informant, his domineering and macho behavior should have been all that was needed to call his leadership into question. By not allowing misogyny to take root in our communities and movements, we not only protect ourselves from the efforts of the state to destroy our work but also create stronger movements that cannot be destroyed from within.

[1] I use the term gender violence to refer to the ways in which homophobia and misogyny are rooted in heteronormative understandings of gender identity and gender roles. Heterosexism not only polices non-normative sexualities but also reproduces normative gender roles and identities that reinforce the logic of patriarchy and male privilege.

[2] I learned this from informal conversations with women who had organized with Darby in Austin and New Orleans while participating in the Austin Informants Working Group, which was formed by people who had worked with Darby and were stunned by his revelation that he was an FBI informant.