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...

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.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

"Criminal" Chalking and free speech: Know your rights.

Last fall, as I was engaged in protracted debates with the Capitol Police and security crews about first amendment rights, chalking, and criminal damage, I found and posted some articles about this guy at UofA who was in an absurd amount of trouble for his own chalking activity in Tucson. I was looking into all that again (dusting off all my gear for an action), and I came across this great blog, Sally Gradstudent, that speaks more directly to the Arizona criminal codes in question in the case. Neat blog with good links - it takes on the UofA administration and rallies other students to do the same.

The chalking charges against Jacob Miller and his trusty comrade (someone who began chalking after his arrest in solidarity) were ultimately dropped by the university, by the way, but it doesn't sound like they would have stuck.


Friday, September 25, 2009


Jacob Miller's arrest is all over the news, turning a peaceful protest into a vortex of media attention. Tucson Citizen's Renee Schafer Horton is trying to get an interview with the UAPD, KGUN9 and KVOA4 both reported on it last night (with interviews from Jacob Miller), the Daily Wildcat filled up most of the front page with a photo from the story. The Desert Lamp has done a great job listing several other chalking incidents on campus.

Not only is the arrest of a peaceful protester disgusting, it also does not seem to us to follow the letter of the law.

Consider the definitions:

"A. A person commits interference with or disruption of an educational institution by doing any of the following:

1. Intentionally, knowingly or recklessly interfering with or disrupting the normal operations of an educational institution by either:

(a) Threatening to cause physical injury to any employee or student of an educational institution or any person on the property of an educational institution.

(b) Threatening to cause damage to any educational institution, the property of any educational institution or the property of any employee or student of an educational institution.

2. Intentionally or knowingly entering or remaining on the property of any educational institution for the purpose of interfering with the lawful use of the property or in any manner as to deny or interfere with the lawful use of the property by others.

3. Intentionally or knowingly refusing to obey a lawful order given pursuant to subsection C of this section.

A. A person commits criminal damage by recklessly:

1. Defacing or damaging property of another person; or

2. Tampering with property of another person so as substantially to impair its function or value; or

3. Tampering with the property of a utility.

4. Parking any vehicle in such a manner as to deprive livestock of access to the only reasonably available water (???what's this doing here??? -Peg)

5. Drawing or inscribing a message, slogan, sign or symbol that is made on any public or private building, structure or surface, except the ground, and that is made without permission of the owner."

Any short walk around campus will reveal numerous chalk drawings, usually made by the sororities. And yet, the police do not interfere with their right to free speech.

This is a serious matter. If Jacob Miller is convicted of these alledged "crimes", he stands to have a criminal record for the rest of his life, as well as fines and possible jail time. The university could then be in a position to suspend or expel him. His court date is October 14th, and if the charges haven't been dropped by then, we should take our peaceful protest to the courthouse.

Check out for more updates on the case.

Renee Schafer Horton of the TC online raises some important questions about the cost estimate for removing the chalk, and thanks to a quick-thinking graduate student with a camera, we have some answers for her. No power washing was done; the chalk was removed (as we watched) in less than 20 minutes by a group of 3 janitors.

According to UAPD, they may be looking for evidence of even more chalking so that they can hand out new citations. This is from Renee Schafer Horton's blog: Sgt. Juan Alvarez of UAPD said "There were other people that help Mr. Miller, but we couldn’t identify them. If we are able to identify them, we could pursue charges."

Is it just us, or does this come off as "Watch your backs, protesters"?

We will not be intimidated.

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