Retiring "Free Marcia Powell"
Thanks for visiting. Peace out - Peg.
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Thursday, June 23, 2011
Uh oh. This ruling does not bode well for me or the Friends of Marcia Powell - I hope it goes further. I just found out today that I'll be charged with felony criminal damage for my June Artwalk protest (during which I painted the alley without the city's permission)...this looks like it could quash my less obnoxious free speech activity, too.
June 21, 2011
Just a few weeks ago the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit said dancing is prohibited inside the Jefferson Memorial. Critics protested. Through dance.
Today, the appeals court turned its attention to a different form of expression—chalk art. The court unanimously said in a panel ruling (PDF) that D.C. law prohibits chalk scribbling on the street in front of the White House.
“No one has a First Amendment right to deface government property,” Judge Brett Kavanaugh declared. “No one has a First Amendment right, for example, to spray-paint the Washington Monument or smash the windows of a police car.”
Kavanaugh said the law prohibiting defacement of public and private property in a content-neutral manner provides “no serious First Amendment objection.”
Rev. Patrick Mahoney, the plaintiff in the suit in Washington federal district court, sought permission for a chalk demonstration in late 2008 to protest against abortion. City police said Mahoney, director of the Christian Defense Coalition, could show up with thousands of supporters. He was allowed to bring signs and banners. But he was prohibited from marking 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest.
Mahoney sued the city and the Metropolitan Police Department in January 2009 in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. He wanted an injunction to block the city from preventing him from writing with chalk on the street. A trial judge rejected the request.
Two days later, the appeals court said, Mahoney took his chalk to the street in front of the White House. Police confronted Mahoney, confiscated the chalk and told him to stop. Mahoney obliged. He was not arrested. Mahoney amended his complaint to add the officer who stopped the chalking.
Judge Janice Rogers Brown wrote the opinion for the appeals panel, which included Kavanaugh and Judge Karen LeCraft Henderson.
The appeals court said the District’s defacement statute is content neutral, banning certain activity—including cutting, chipping, writing and marking—without reference to control of the speaker's message.
Also, the court said the “special nature” of the street in front of the White House—closed to vehicular traffic but open to pedestrians—“serves to heighten esthetic concerns” of the government. “[T]he District’s interest in controlling the esthetic appearance of the street in front of the White House is substantial,” the appeals court said.
The court noted that the District's defacement statute still provided Mahoney other avenues for communication, including signs and banners.
"The District’s threatened use of the defacement statute did not curtail Mahoney’s plans," Brown wrote. "Mahoney was free to announce any “verbal” message he chose. And, Mahoney could depict visual messages on signs, banners, and leaflets. Thus, ample alternative channels of communication existed."
Lawyers for Mahoney were not immediately reached for comment this morning on the appellate court ruling. Carly Gammill of the American Center for Law and Justice argued for Mahoney in the D.C. Circuit in September.
Gammill and James Henderson Sr. of the ACLJ said in court papers that the chalk art demonstration was the only speech activity for which Mahoney sought permission. The city's restriction, then, "prohibited the demonstration in its entirety."
"[W]hatever the storied history and traditions may be that pertain to the street in dispute, Pennsylvania Avenue is nothing other than an archetypical public forum," Mahoney's attorneys said in a brief.
Mahoney's lawyers called the chalk art ban a "peculiar, targeted denial of expression." The attorneys said the District regularly "conducts contests and promotions to entice the public into the public space for the purpose of creating chalk art."
Posted by Mike Scarcella on June 21, 2011 at 11:45 AM
If you knew how many Indigenous people we were imprisoning these days - many far from their homes - you'd know why it's so important to the fight for prison abolition to respect sacred places...their struggle for Indigenous rights, free exercise of religion, and to defend Mother Earth - without being marginalized or branded as eco-terrorists in the process - is also ours. We must stand in solidarity with them before they are imprisoned...
As asked by one defender of the San Francisco Peaks last week: How can the Dine' and other Indigenous peoples be trespassers on their own Holy Land?
Join us in Phoenix on Friday, June 24 at 7:30am to stand in solidarity with Indigenous resistance to the destruction and desecration of the Sacred: Demand that Arizona Department of Environmental Quality Change its Permission Allowing Wastewater to be Used for Snowmaking.
PROTECT SACRED SITES!
DEFEND THE PEAKS!
Friday, June 24th 7:30-9AM
Arizona Department of Environmental Quality
1110 West Washington Street
Phoenix, Arizona 85007
On Thursday, June 16th six people were arrested for halting the construction of a water line, which would pump Flagstaff waste-water up to Snowbowl on the sacred San Francisco Peaks.
We’ll be showing up in front of the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) office to stand in solidarity with those arrested, demand that ADEQ change its permission for allowing wastewater to be used on the San Francisco Peaks, and with all indigenous people who hold the Peaks holy.
ADEQ has never held any meaningful public process when it initially decided to allow wastewater to be used for snowmaking. Whose interests are they serving?
One of the protesters who locked themselves to the excavator on Thursday said “Snowbowl plans to spray millions of gallons of waste water snow, which is filled with cancer causing and other harmful contaminants, as well as clear-cut over 30,000 trees. The Peaks are a pristine and beautiful place, a fragile ecosystem, and home to rare and endangered species of plants and animals.”
Another person who locked down said the “action is not isolated, but part of a continued resistance to human rights violations, to colonialism, to corporate greed, and destruction of Mother Earth.”
Please bring signs, noise makers, water and/or your voice!
Sponsored by Phoenix Anarchist Coalition (PAC) -
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
Urged on by prisoners who were there when she died, we tracked down Brenda's father to make sure that her family members know to file suit because of the circumstances, though I don't know if he's in time to file a Notice of Claim against the state - there's generally a six-month deadline for grieving families to be on top of (and no one ever tells them that). I referred him to a good attorney who will find out, no doubt.
Brenda's dad isn't on-line and the family never saw the Phoenix New Times story or my blog posts about how she died - or all the letters we received from the other women about what happened - and the State only notified him last week that the death certificate is ready, so I think the courts should grant him an extension to file. He had no way of knowing that her death was wrongful until now. It goes beyond simple negligence.
The family can still file suit in federal court, however, I believe under civil rights law. There's a two-year deadline for prisoners to file Section 1983 CR suits, at least, so survivors of prison violence who have missed filing deadlines for the state should still speak to an attorney as soon as possible. Do NOT wait for or trust the AZ Department of Corrections or the AZ Attorney General's office to give you timely, accurate information about your loved one's death - they're just trying to avoid your lawsuits. Unfortunately, it seems the only way they change is when someone wins in court - and we need to stop them from killing these women now, so please exercise all your rights to fight back.
Our condolences go out to all of Brenda's loved ones. Feel free to contact me (Peggy at 480-580-6807) if there's anything I might be able to do. If nothing else, I can put you in touch with other families who share your struggle - just let me know.
June 23, 2011: CORRECTION:
It's only been five months since Brenda died. That means that - thanks to my friend Matt's work - we're in time to help her family with a claim against the state. Unfortunately, litigation seems to be the only thing that makes them clean up the prisons, and Brenda's family has one hell of a suit...she could end up sparing a lot of other women from the hell she went through. From what I've been told, she'd probably give her blessings to that struggle...
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
I wonder if that's illegal for me to advocate? Probably, in this fascist state.
Just an observation that our alley is now the cleanest in the entire Roosevelt/Hance Park neighborhood - there's graffiti everywhere except here! See what they chose to leave up, while wiping my art out? Talk about provocative...
E. Portland St. between N. 2nd & 3rd Streets (appx.), Phoenix
The Graffiti Buster must not have to face the vandals whose art he demolishes very often - when I caught him checking things out and asked if he was planning to clean up my work, he muttered "maybe", then hurridly took off. I think I scared him: he was back less than 30 minutes later with four Phoenix Graffiti Detectives, one of whom finally read me my rights.
Maybe I was Mirandized instead of arrested because I'm just a suspect in this new crime they all came to investigate (the art that was being removed right then, that I just confessed to creating). Maybe it's because I've been so cooperative, sending them my postcards from the edge as evidence. But why four cops? I think it was in case I got out of hand over my art being defaced.
Great - no help at all. They'll sure show me, for trying harass and guilt trip the city into taking their share of responsibility for the prison crisis with my criminal activity. Not only will they clean up after me within hours of finding my work, they won't lift a finger to stop the rising death toll in the prisons.
Sunday, June 19, 2011
To: Sgt. Mark Schweikert; Detective Diane Rowe
Phoenix Police Department
Attached is more evidence of my crimes, with a witness list for this confession. I'm going to make the most of that tool in the coming weeks and months. You all get to preview what just became my next blog post... I must really have an ego in order to be such an exhibitionist. If I didn't have such a healthy shot of grandiosity, so many people with the power to really hurt me may not be subjected to my constant irritation, but then no one would know there's a problem in the prisons but the families of the dead and the dying.
In any case, I won't wait for the next dead prisoner to come along for me to paint on the sidewalk before I escalate again; I feel like I've failed now with each one. I have to touch base with two mothers and a sister today alone - survivors of a suicide, a homicide, and an apparent overdose on psych meds...they call the latter an "accident" at this point. It's probably the most important yet most painful thing I do, talking to those families...I would guess you can relate, if you've been cops for long. I hate it, but I have to keep letting them know what's going on - they more than anyone want to see change.
The homicide was in Buckeye - Lewis prison. Stiner. It was Dana Seawright - early last July. It was a gang hit, and hate crime (bet the state never called it that, though). "Unsolved" (they know full well who did it, I believe. The gangs run that prison in particular). The killers are probably on the streets again, like one of Pete Calleros' murderers already is. I think I told you about Dana - he was only 26. He was reportedly a self-admitted member of the West Side City Crips, and got caught being friends with a Mexican. They told him in the aftermath of this relationship becoming known that he had to hit a member of a Mexican gang to prove his loyalty - he didn't do a good enough job, though. Dana didn't really want to hurt anyone - he basically faked it, according to both the investigative records and the guards who narrated his days to his mom as he lay dying. For his defiance, Dana was bludgeoned into unconsciousness; his mother took him off life support five days later...
The state couldn't find a single guard to watch that kid's back even from a distance in there, but they had two on him all the time while he was chained to a bed in a coma. What brave public servants we have. Glad they have their priorities straight.
Kini Seawright's life slowly fell apart after her only child's murder. Her health and mental status deteriorated, her attendance and performance at work suffered, and she got laid off from the job she'd been progressing steadily at for years. She made good after prison years earlier herself, but was forced this year to turn to unemployment and AHCCCS, both of which are now compromised by budget cuts. She could be waiting months yet to hear back on her Social Security disability claim - I don't believe she told them about her mood disorder being exacerbated by the trauma of the murder, because her back and legs are such a source of trouble as it is, so she may face more denials and appeals.
In the meantime, Kini just received a notice from her landlord that she has to pay up back rent or move out in five days - which I think arrives on Wednesday. Kini says the guy's been gracious and understanding for a long time, but I guess a few people owe him and the bank is coming after his properties - or is threatening to.
I'm honestly in the middle of trying to vacate my own apartment in the next week or so, and have no idea what to do for either of us. If I had the money, then the answer for now would be easy. But instead I have to ask for help - or rather, she does - which is just inviting more abuse from the state, frankly. When her son died, the Department of Corrections gave her 24 hours to get his body under threat of burying him on prison grounds. They couldn't even help her find the $300 she needed to bring him home.
Crime victims and their survivors have certain rights under the Arizona State Constitution - and privileges under a number of programs we've set up - except for those victimized while "in custody for an offense". I think that was a loophole to let cops and governments off for abusing and neglecting the rest of us, when we're supposed to be the most under their control. So when Kini called the Arizona Attorney General's Office Victims Services people for referrals on Friday, she was ultimately told that she didn't qualify for any assistance as a crime victim or survivor because her son was in custody at the time of his death - he doesn't count as human under the victim's rights' amendment, you see, while entities such as "the state" and WalMart do.
Now, doesn't that just mess with your head, when you think about it? Really. Whatever happened to "the People?" As cops in Arizona, you have more constitutional duty to serve a corporate "person" who has been stolen from - or vandalized - than you do the very real mother of a young man who was brutally beaten down by the West Side City Crips.
That must hurt to think about, if you really care about protecting and serving us.
Dana's homicide was actually a double hate crime, you know. We set him up for that kind of death long before he even went to prison, simply by cultivating that kind of garbage in this fine state - then we buried him by decimating his rights in custody. Anyone who truly hates racism, homophobia, gangs, and violence - not to mention prisons - should be on this "unsolved" homicide, our screwed up constitution, and the way Dana's mom is being treated if you're getting any of what I'm saying at all.
We diminished Dana's humanity - along with Marcia Powell's, Shannon Palmer's, Brenda Todd's, Susan Lopez', and every other victim in custody - by withholding from him and his loved ones the same constitutional rights we grant everyone else whose lives are so shattered by violence perpetrated by not only convicted criminals but also the state officers in charge of their punishment and safety.
Of all places in society - especially a nation which so prides itself on the nobility of its law enforcement personnel and the primacy of order - can we not keep our vulnerable prisoners safe within the confines of the most fortified institutions we erect? We can't even protect the tough young guys like Dana. We owe it to him and his mom to do everything we can to direct the resources we've allocated to assist violent crime survivors in times of need to her now.
That's my SOS to all of you today - beginning with those of you "In Blue", so to speak. It'll be up by the end of the day.
And please don't take too long to think about it; time ran out for Dana's mom already.
Arizona Prison Watch
P.O. Box 20494
Phoenix, AZ 85036
"Our strategy should be not only to confront empire, but to lay siege to it. To deprive it of oxygen. To shame it. To mock it. With our art, our music, our literature, our stubbornness, our joy, our brilliance, our sheer relentlessness, and our ability to tell our own stories..."
- Arundhati Roy
Arizona Prison Watch
Hard Time Alliance - AZ
Arizona Juvenile Prison Watch
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
All lectures will be held at 3707 N. 7th Street, Suite 100, Phoenix, AZ 85014
You are invited to the ACLU of Arizona's Summer 2011 Brown Bag Lecture Series!
Who says there is nothing to do during the summer in the Valley of the Sun?
In Their Own Words: Enduring Abuse in Arizona Immigration Detention Centers
Protecting What Works: Juvenile Diversion in Maricopa County
A Force to Be Reckoned With: Taser Use in Arizona Police Departments
Sunday, June 5, 2011
I met the Graffiti Detectives Friday evening in my back alley, which is along the main drag for the Phoenix Artwalk on the First Friday of every month. A few friends and comrades showed to cop-watch from the sidelines; most of my friends are on probation or parole, however, and couldn't afford the risk involved in being as criminally disobedient as I have been in recent days, so they were excused from showing for the action.
A few folks have rightfully asked me to explain what I'm doing and why a little better. Among other things, I've been trying to force a more animated and engaging public dialogue about the prison deaths, free expression and resistance, and Arizona's tendency to prioritize property rights over human rights in our legislative practices. There are a host of intersecting issues affecting human rights in this state, beginning with a flawed value system. Here it's "criminal damage" to block access for livestock to water supplies - a felony - and yet guaranteeing access to water in the desert for people is prosecuted criminally as littering.
As a manifestation of our collective social values in Phoenix, the city's response to my solicitation to resist the status quo through possible criminal activity turned out a whole squad of cops to protect an alley from art, but no one in this state will initiate an investigation into all the suicides and homicides at the AZ Department of Corrections. What gives? I can't even count how many cops I've reported the state's crimes too, but no one seems to feel responsible for intervening themselves, or even calling in the feds.
An argument can be made that my chalk - and now paint - on the ground invites graffiti on the walls and "blight"; there was some new artwork done the night before they arrived Friday, specifically a message to them:
The images that bug me the most, frankly, are not graffiti per se, but from the advertising I can't avoid looking at everywhere I go - especially those faded, aging political signs like the ones outside of Tom Horne's old campaign office on 7th Ave and McDowell - boy that place is looking trashy. Bottom line is that if you have money you can ram your politics down everyone's throat with fear, racism, sexism, homophobia - the list of ugly manipulative strategies we're subjected to each political season goes on.
Then we must respect the "rights" of people who just want to make a buck from us to advertise their garbage - from fast food joints to casinos to strip clubs and the state's lottery system, as long as they have the money to buy or rent space they can push their products and messaging all over our everyday landscape. But if an impoverished citizen objects to the way our government is being run and puts up their own highway signage to express objection to the wars, for example, it's considered a crime.
Only property-holders and lawmakers can color and abuse our public horizon that way, it appears. All public space should be safe for free (unpaid) political expression, but none is really protected by our laws in meaningful places, quantities, or ways - if anything, it's discouraged by the privatization of so much community space (done to give police departments and businesses the leverage to criminalize homelessness and hassle the poor riff raff busking on "their" sidewalks).
I can only guess who made those kinds of laws, and who they serve most today - I'm fairly sure they weren't designed to empower The People, though. Law is mainly made to maintain the social order, after all - which is inherently heirarchical, capitalist, racist, misogynistic, and anti-democratic in America - especially Arizona...
Anyway, as I said, I met the Graffiti Detectives (Diane Rowe and her partner, whose name I keep forgetting) in my back alley Friday in time for my planned protest. It quickly became clear that they wouldn't be arresting me - I think they mainly just didn't want to become players in my street theater any more than they already had to be.
Detective Rowe took issue with my characterization of cops picking on teenage taggers - they feel as if they try to help the kids they arrest, in particular. They also argued that there really aren't that many youth being charged as adults or even sent off to child prison for graffiti alone. They see writing as being like a "gateway" drug, so the youth getting into real trouble may face burglary and other charges by the time they get busted for tagging...
So, the Graffiti Detectives are really here to help wayward youth, not control and punish budding revolutionaries. Right. Regardless, we never would have had the conversation we did if I was a teenage Latino male chalking the public walks in the middle of the night instead of a middle class white woman calling my vandalism "politics" and "art"...
which is what this protest was really about - my own privilege. In a year and a half of chalking the walks of Power, how is it that I've never been arrested, assaulted, or shot by a cop in this town? Not that I WANT any of those things to happen, mind you - but I see them happening to people of color and those in poverty all around me, and can't help but wonder why I get a pass, if not for the intersections of my gender, age, race and class...
That I am particularly privileged by the status quo in Arizona today is fairly disturbing - and the cost of accommodating my comfort, and that of my class, compels me to resist with everything I have. I may not be the most brilliant organizer or political strategist - some folks really doubt my sanity given my engagement of the police in confrontations - but I have yet to hear one good reason why not to tackle this head-on, at every level of law enforcement.
Anyway, I talk to cops more than real anarchists do because I want them engaged in the struggle of prisoners - they're the ones doing them the "favor" of arrest and confinement to get them off the streets, give them "3 hots and a cot" (which are really two bag lunches and a "boat" on the floor) - like everyone did to help Marcia Powell and Shannon Palmer, lucky them. That's a reminder that even the best intentions can still hurt a lot of people, especially if the police are brought into the mix as partners or "helpers". Their primary job is to maintain the order of the state, not promote the liberties and rights of the people - no matter how friendly they may seem.
But the cops didn't come to chat about my politics. Detective Rowe and I talked about all those issues for half an hour or so before I finally threw my red paint down and slapped my palm print up on the side of one of the dumpsters in our alley, irritated by the show of police force to discourage such activity. In the end I was yelling, I think, about how property rights trump human rights in this town as they all showed up to fight "vandalism" but I can't get anyone to follow up on serious abuse complaints against cops.
That's bullshit, frankly. So I've asked the Phoenix Graffiti Detectives to help me get the DOJ out here - we'll see if they bother to do that much. That might be too much like ratting out their own to internal affairs - that's how creeps like Gerster, Keesee and Chrisman stay in positions of power, though.
As for my criminal damage - I was the only one to handle the paint Friday night, since my friends don't need to be harassed any more than they already are - I can expect them to catch up to me with criminal charges and a bill for restitution and clean-up, on their own schedule. They aren't about to accommodate mine. I'll keep you all posted on how that unfolds; I expect it will give me plenty to write about, if nothing else of value.
Thanks for all your support, by the way, folks. You all rock!