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.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Occupy Phoenix Arrests: Resistance is Not Futile

Spent about 18 hours in custody of the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office Sunday, after being grabbed in the Phoenix Police Department's sweep of Margaret T. Hance Park Saturday night - the first night of our People's Occupation of the city. Things got a little intense once we settled. I walked home and got my tent and other camping gear - passing through about a hundred riot police on the outskirts of the park on my way back. It was dark by then, and no one had put up any tents. As far as I knew we didn't have permission to do so - so I did, hoping it would create space for others to do so as well. It made a perfect backdrop for the sign I had carried around all day.

Occupy Phoenix:"Resistance is not Futile"
Margaret T. Hance Park
(October 15, 2011)
original photo by robert haasch
sign and post-production rendition by margaret j plews

Neither the City of Phoenix nor the negotiators appointed by the Occupy Phoenix General Assembly to interface with them seemed pleased with my decision. Nor did the police - three of whom in succession approached me to warn me that I was violating the Phoenix Camping ordinance and could be arrested. The third cop was most emphatic - at which point I began yelling to the crowd for help:

"Mic Check!" "Mic Check!" (that's how you signal you need the floor and the group lets you know when you have it). I hollered that my tent was in protest against the camping ordinance and the criminalization of homelessness, and asked them to protect me from being arrested. I pointed out that if I was a tired, 47-year old woman with no place to sleep and no energy to walk any further, I could be arrested for laying down there to sleep - and that's anywhere in Phoenix. The crowd converged and the cops backed down.

I began talking more about the city's homeless but was cut off by a couple of apparent organizers or representatives of the larger collective trying to de-escalate the potential for a conflict with the cops. Even as one officer was threatening me with arrest, my comrades were reassuring the gathering crowd that an agreement had just been reached with the city that no one would face arrest for putting up a tent (only later did we learn that was only for so long as the park would be open - after closing we were arrested for just being there).

Away from the circle, after erecting my tent, I asked members of the negotiating team (I think that's who they were, anyway) to please seek amnesty for all the campers in Phoenix that night, not just us. Unfortunately, I'm not sure that part was heard. I'm hoping we can get the abolition of the camping ordinance on the larger group's agenda - more likely, now, I think, that more people have experienced first hand a small taste of the police harassment that our homeless brothers and sisters get on a regular basis.

photo by robert haasch (who saved my ass by being there)

I went on to provoke the police a little more that night just before the mass arrests. Unlike most of my fellow occupiers, I was not seated and linking arms with the group - I was out filming the columns of riot police sweeping the park. Another protester, Cody (our flag handler) and I strayed too far from the collective and into the path of the police, and got nabbed early on. They yelled a warning right at us that if we didn't leave the park we'd be arrested (that was pretty clear), but before I managed to take two steps back I was apprehended by Officer Chad Shiply (at least, that's who got the credit on my booking papers) - in fact, I think he was yelling at me ("you in the red hat") even as our warning was being issued.

Cody got pretty roughed up when they tackled him - I think he was hit in the head and they kept yelling at him to let go of his flagpole, all the while pinning it between his body and his arms. A cop stepped so hard on his neck that he was wheezing all the way to jail, and his flex cuffs were on so tight he lost feeling in his hands.

Whoever it was who arrested me wasn't very gentle, either, by any means - my left arm is pretty bruised up from where he twisted it behind and under some piece of equipment (it felt like the rim of a riot shield, but I don't think he was carrying one), and the skin around my wrist is broken from where he put the flex cuffs on too tight. I told him it was cutting me, but his answer was simply "It's supposed to be tight", and put me in the wagon. I got another cop's attention, though, and he and a couple of other officers tried to cut it off, only to find that it was so digging deep into my skin that they couldn't remove it until we got to the station where they had a special tool. They loosened the pressure by cutting the other piece off my right hand and pulling out my bracelet from under the remaining plastic band, putting me in regular cuffs for the ride.

From there on out, any mistreatment I was subjected to was the same that all the other prisoners I was with was subjected to: extremely cold cement slabs and floors to discourage sleep or even simple comfort, over-crowded and filthy holding cells, and two meals of barely-edible food (an oatmeal creme cookie, a small container of peanut butter, two small loaves of funky bread, two moldy decorative oranges, and a "blue hug" - the syrupy concoction that's also known as "bug juice", to those of you who went to summer camp). Being moved from one cell to another repeatedly and never finding ourselves in the view of a clock or window, we were constantly disoriented as to time and space.

Only a couple of our guards seemed to enjoy abusing their power and being mean; most were just matter-of-fact or indifferent to prisoner complaints and questions, and in the course of giving us orders - although some were curious about our protest and increasingly bemused at the crowd growing outside the jail awaiting our release. I felt blessed that we were kept together; I so needed the company of the other women who chose this same path. They kept my spirits up, and my heart warm.

That's saying a lot, given my condition. I reported upon intake what medications I needed every day, but didn't get any of them. With my thyroid level falling Sunday morning, I spent most of the time shivering in a deep freeze. I don't know if denying me two doses of my mood stabilizers made much of a difference, but I sure had moments of pretty deep demoralization and despair. At the very least it threw me off my schedule; I skipped a few beats.

I didn't even bother asking for aspirin or motrin for my headache - that seemed to be the least of my worries. I was exhausted, stressed, and my body temperature and mood were crashing hard. I was acutely aware that it would not look good to my judge, if informed, that I already have a case in municipal court for another act of civil disobedience involving 3 charges of criminal damage. I felt incredibly vulnerable to being trapped there, and missed my Mom so much that I silently cried.

Some of you who know me well are aware that while I was a delinquent and trouble-maker from a young age, I was never criminalized. Instead, for using drugs, running away, and trying to kill myself so often I spent my adolescence locked up in psychiatric institutions, being rehabilitated instead of just punished. Relapse part of the recovery process from alcoholism and addiction (I started drinking at 13), so while I was a traumatized, deeply depressed youth, I could have also easily gone through the juvenile justice system (like my big brother) and landed in prison at 18 for all my drug-related crimes. Instead I pretty much sobered up and became a responsible citizen at 20. With my history of institutionalization, my mood disorder, my addictions, and lack of any resources by which to survive, I could have so easily lived and died like Marcia Powell - there but for the grace of God go I.

Now, at 47 years old, I'm more radical than I was as a teen. I think that's because I see what's at stake for the people so much more clearly now - not just what's at stake for me. This was my first arrest and booking into the county jail. It was a disturbing experience, even though endured with friends and comrades - I don't look forward to this again. I'm afraid that given the persistence of my disobedience I'm likely to end up doing more than a few hours next time, if there is one.

Though I haven't been arrested before, I have been confined as a patient. No matter how good the conditions or how kind my keepers are, I never much liked being treated like a prisoner, which is what being a psychiatric patient entails as well - only our sentences and subjugation to a higher authority on the appropriateness of our conduct are indeterminate and not subject to effective appeals - nor does our imprisonment garner much public sympathy.
Think about it: it's just not the same trying to rally people to "free Peggy" if I'm in the nut house than if I'm in jail for taking on the riot police - few people are willing to second-guess the good judgement of anyone who calls themselves a mental health professional and declares one of us to be a danger to ourselves or others.

With limited rights as subjects in mental health court, we can be placed under surveillance of the psychiatric system indefinitely, be forcibly injected with mind-altering drugs that stay in our system for weeks at a time, be deprived of some of our civil rights (like convicted felons), and be violently seized by police and put back into state custody without even being suspected of a crime. It's chilling to know how easily they can still do that to me - especially since I walk a fine line some days between outraged artistic expression and just plain madness.

That does not mean I really aspire or prefer to take a stroll through the criminal justice system as a defendant, though. I just felt that in both cases an act of civil disobedience was essential to bring attention to serious problems that the law enforcement community, for one, needs to take some responsibility for. That means everyone from the beat cop on the street to the head of the Maricopa County Superior Court should be part of the conversation about the escalating violence and despair in the state prisons, and the tragic deaths of so many people who never should have even gone there - like people who are criminalized for their mental illness or housing status.

Prisoners like Shannon Palmer and Marcia Powell could have been helped long before heading to prison with outreach and supported housing programs, like we developed in the 1990's. If prosecutors like Bill Montgomery want to reduce both victimization and criminalization, they'll support more resources going into our mental health system than into building new prisons, and cops should support legislative changes that take them out of the role of social workers by insuring social workers are around to prevent crisis from escalating to police attention.

Anyway, I'm now in rather deep trouble, I think, over too many minor infractions, and must behave myself - so next time you hear me taking on the Phoenix police, remind me to chill myself out. I've been booked, printed and detained once already - I even have a mug shot now (I'm a serious criminal here). I'm really kind of a wimp, and don't want to go through that all again.

So, I'll be trying to behave myself these next few weeks, as my pre-trial for my graffiti activity is also approaching (November 14, 1:30pm, PHX Municipal Courthouse, room 508).

I'll still be out there, though - just not fighting with the police. Look for me
chalking Power downtown or handing out Real Cost of Prison comic books, promoting the November 30 ALEC Resistance. The people need to tune into that one quick if they really want to make a difference in our current social state.

For those of you doing any kind of jail support for Occupy Phoenix, by the way - I think we all have our arraignments on October 26, 2011 at 10am (phoenix Municipal Court 300 W. Washington St). At that time some may both plead guilty and be sentenced, hopefully to time served (or have a sentencing date set). Some will no doubt plead not guilty and ask for a bench trial (no jury for misdemeanors like this). We have to be facing probable jail time or probation in order to be appointed an attorney if we can't afford one. Since there could be up to six months of jail time and a huge fee involved, I'm asking for an attorney, myself. In any case, a little support for us defendants that day (I believe there were 46 arrested) would be appreciated.

In the meantime, there are stipulations to our freedom (these are mine, anyway). The first one is the only one that worries me, since that can be subject to interpretation at the discretion of a cop...but at least she didn't order us to stay away from the scene of the crime:

1. Obey all laws.

2. Appear at all court hearings and follow all court orders.

3. Notify the court if you move from the address listed on the complaint.

4. Do not harass or threaten alleged victims, witnesses, and/or arresting officers.

Remind us to stay out of trouble please, folks. We won't be released on PR again if we don't. There's a whole lot of damage we can do without being criminal anyway, and we need to be employing a diversity of tactics, as the anarchists often say - and not everyone can afford to be arrested. To those of you who think you can - please be careful not to get hurt out there. The cops can be brutal, and it's really no fun going to jail. Here are some tips if you expect to be arrested, though:

- Don't let any of what I just said scare you from taking action: we really need more arrestable citizens willing to step up when others get taken out. Just go in with your eyes wide open.

- Give all your stuff to a friend ahead of time who can greet you as you come out - they'll probably need to take you to the impound of the police department that arrested you. Just keep your license handy - everything else, including your shoelaces, will have to go.

- Have your jail support team planned out, including some clue about the possible legal consequences you may face, and where, other than the PD's office, you can get legal assistance.

- Writ
e the phone numbers you may need with a Sharpie on your arm - including the person you need to drive you. You may want to include the number of a bailbonds-person, too. I'll post a link to one when I hear of a good one to refer you to. The jail staff are NOT likely to let you pull any numbers off your cell phone, so be prepared.

- be well-layered for your action, erring on the side of being too warm. Everyone is freezing in jail, and there's nothing soft on which to sit or put your head. Extra, warm clothes are priceless.

- save all food you are given, even the moldy oranges. You may get hungry enough to eat it before they feed you again, or another prisoner may come in without having had food in days.

- bond with your comrades and fellow prisoners, to the extent they are comfortable doing so. It makes the time pass and can pull you out of your own misery. Almost everyone was in a worse predicament there - with more to lose - than me.

- let supporters know it could be up to 24 hours before you even see a judge, so they aren't hanging from the get-go. Tell them when your initial appearance is scheduled for, and that they probably won't be able to get you until 2 hours after that - if you get released. Again, my little stay was about 18 hours from pulling into the jail to my release.

- once free, getting your property will probably take time - it may take your entire workday. Be careful what you promise your employer - you may not have your car keys in the am following your release (if at night or on a weekend), and need to deal with all that.

- and, this should go without saying: don't talk to or trust the police, before or after an action, be it solitary or a collective one. Their job is to shut us down - period. They'll do it with their gas and clubs or simply with their smiles - the latter is most insidious. Don't let them in your head either way.

-------mainstream media coverage by the Arizona Republic-------

Arrests made after Phoenix occupy protests

About 50 Occupy Phoenix protesters descended on the Fourth Avenue Jail in Phoenix to support the 45 demonstrators arrested early Sunday. "Bankers get a bailout and we get jail," they chanted before marching back to Cesar Chavez Plaza on Sunday afternoon.
Later that evening, about 150 demonstrators crowded the sidewalks at the plaza under the watch of police officers. Three demonstrators were arrested when they refused to get off the street after the plaza's closing hour.
In the early hours of Sunday, Phoenix police arrested 45 Occupy Phoenix protesters who refused to leave downtown's Margaret T. Hance Park at its 10:30 p.m. closing time, according to Phoenix Police Sgt. Trent Crump.
Marking the first time the group staged a demonstration in Phoenix, more than 1,000 members of a movement that decries corporate greed among other issues demonstrated at Cesar Chavez Plaza in downtown Phoenix before moving to the park.
But unlike in cities such as New York, where Occupy Wall Street protesters have been given the okay since last month to camp out on a privately owned parcel, Phoenix riot police forced protestors out of the park and arrested those who wouldn't go, Crump said.
"Most of those arrested were passive in nature and no injuries were reported to either officers or demonstrators," Crump said.
The arrests capped a day that saw more than 1,000 people packed Cesar Chavez Plaza in downtown Phoenix to protest what they view as abuses by banks and other major corporations.
The protest was an offshoot of the Occupy Wall Street movement that spread Saturday to cities such as Raleigh, Denver, Seattle, Chicago and Tucson, where several hundred people rallied at Military Plaza Park.
Like the New York crowds, Occupy Phoenix protesters championed diverse causes, united by grievances against corporate greed and political influence.
The targets of protesters' anger ranged from Washington, D.C.'s partisan politics to the abuse of children by Catholic priests.
Protesters blame these problems on wealthy corporate CEOs and what they termed big businesses' lack of compassion for the "lower 99 percent" of the population.
Earlier Saturday, the protest went smoothly, Crump said.
"There were large crowds with no known injuries or arrest. The plaza had cleared out late in the afternoon, prior to its 6 p.m. closing time," Crump said of the earlier gathering. Protestors Saturday afternoon marched to Hance park, in part because of its later hours of operation, which are posted as 10:30 p.m.
"As the park closing hour passed many of the demonstrators refused to leave," Crump said.
Detectives from the Phoenix Police Community Response Squad personally urged group members to leave quickly. More requests made by ground and by air.
"However, a large group remained and refused to leave the park," Crump said.
Before midnight, Field Force Team moved in to clear the protesters, whose chants and other loud noises prompted police reports, Crump said.
The team formed a line and moved across the park, arrested and pushing the protesters ahead of the line, Trump said. Sprinklers came on and many demonstrators moved north, Crump said.
As of this morning, 45 arrests had taken place for criminal trespass, a Class 3 misdemeanor, Crump said.
"Most of those arrested were passive in nature and no injuries were reported to either officers or demonstrators," Crump said.
Despite the arrests protesters vowed to return today in force, but by early Sunday just a few clustered near the Cesar Chavez Plaza.
The gathering was primarily organized through social media, and the movement has no official spokesman.
"Non-violence is really good practically," said Carolyn Vesecky, a trainer with the Phoenix Nonviolence TruthForce. "We have a lot of passion, but we need to direct it in the most constructive means."
About a dozen musicians played instruments, sang and rapped revolutionary lyrics at various times.
When they closed the park, the police flew their chopper past midnight, and by 1:30 had pushed everybody out of the park. Protesters said that Phoenix Assistant Manager Cavazos made the problem worse by pushing the protesters out of the park into neighborhoods in the middle of the night.
By Sunday afternoon, the crowd at Cesar Chavez Plaza had swelled to a couple hundred people, some of them yelling, "We love you," to motorists driving on Washington Avenue and waving signs that read, "We are the 99 percent," "End the Corpocracy," and, "Money is not speech. Corporations are not people," a reference to the controversial Supreme Court decision known as Citizens United.
Several wore T-shirts with the epigram, "Think: It's not illegal yet."
Among the demonstrators was Dave Reilly, 47, of Chicago, who had been in Occupy protests in New York and Chicago before he came to Phoenix.
Reilly had been a training coordinator for an electronics corporation but lost his job in 2007 because the company switched to less-expensive online training.
"I've been looking for work; it's a black hole," said Reilly, who has worked part-time jobs including pedaling a rickshaw, cleaning toilets and working as a lifeguard.
He worked construction in Phoenix for two months but quit after he didn't get a paycheck.
"They shrugged and said, 'When we get paid, you get paid.' People are so desperate, employers are taking huge advantage of the situation. They can replace you; somebody else will come along and do the job for free."
Still, he carried a sign saying "I (heart) USA" explaining his sign by saying, "It's the greatest country in the world; it's just a little bit mismanaged."
Among the protesters was Ondi Scibilia. She said she had been living in Santan Valley, but her home is being short-saled, so she's staying with a friend in Goodyear.
Her green-cleaning/concierege company was doing well until the economy tanked. It folded in December 2008.
Scibilia grew vegetables and goats for cheese on her land, but her husband lost his job with a cement company in December 2009, and in 2010, their marriage ended.
She has turned in hundreds of job applications, which have prompted only two phone calls and one interview.
"I still have hope," she said. "Without hope, I wouldn't be breathing."
Sylvia Trainor of Peoria is two weeks away from losing her house to auction. Until she lost her well-paid engineer husband to cancer, the couple paid still paid the mortgage from their savings.
She's in deep debt because of his cancer treatments but says she can't get coverage under AHCCCS, the state's Medicaid system, not even for her son who has Asperger's syndrome, a form of autism.
"All I have is Social Security," she said. "If I pay the mortgage, I don't have enough money for food. I get food boxes, but that's not enough with four children at home."
When she loses her home, she wants to keep her family together, so she expects to pitch a tent in a park.
"The only thing holding me together is my faith," she said.
Also at the protest Sunday night was Peter Szayer of Mesa, who had just spent 18 hours in the Fourth Avenue Jail after being arrested for being in Hance Park after it closed.
"It put things in perspective how things are run here in Arizona in the jail system," said Szayer, who was a college student but had to quit because he couldn't afford school.
He now works as a caregiver to physically and mentally challenged people at Tungland Corp. in Phoenix.
He said he was put in pink handcuffs, had the option of sleeping on the floor or a concrete bench, and was fed once - bread, peanut butter and two small oranges.
"I could totally tell they did not care about us," he said. "They didn't care how big or small our crime was. I was sitting next to a guy (not one of the protesters) who was bleeding all over the place."
He said detention officers made fun of him and his fellow protesters, taunting them by saying, "Are you having fun occupying this jail?"
Szayer said he faced the prospect of being homeless Sunday night because his backpack containing his car keys, cellphones and ID had been impounded and he couldn't retrieve them until Monday.
He was concerned because he said he needed an ID to get them.
"It's something I'll have to deal with tomorrow," he said Sunday night.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

We will not be Ignored: Occupy Phoenix, October 15.

But First: 
This land is already occupied.

Friday, October 14, 3pm 
Downtown Phoenix 
Civic Space Park
424 N. Central Avenue

Support Indigenous Resistance


pass it on.


‘Occupy Wall Street’ protest slowly spreads across the United States

the Raw Story
By Eric W. Dolan
Monday, September 26th, 2011 -- 6:17 pm

Small groups of demonstrators in major American cities have started their own "Occupy Wall Street" demonstrations and organizers are planning further actions in more cities across the United States.

A diverse coalition of people have pledged to occupy Wall Street until something is done about corporate greed and the financial system's undemocratic influence on the U.S. government.

The protesters have been camped out in New York’s old Liberty Plaza, one block from the Federal Reserve, since Saturday.

"The one thing we all have in common is that We Are The 99 Percent that will no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the one percent," said a statement on the Occupy Wall Street website.

At least 80 to 100 people were arrested over the weekend in the first big crackdown since the demonstration began. Police accused the protesters of blocking traffic and resisting arrest.

Video recordings showed female protesters being rounded up in an orange-colored mesh pen by police and subsequently sprayed with mace, seemingly without any provocation, and other protesters being dragged across the street by police. Another protester said she was arrested for trying to film the demonstration and locked in a police van for over two hours.

The protest spread to other cities over the weekend.

A small group of "Occupy Los Angeles" demonstrators marched through the streets of downtown Los Angeles on Saturday to show their support for the protesters in New York City.

"Corporate interests seem to be controlling both parties,” one protester told “The ‘little man,’ the ‘American every man,’ just isn’t getting their voice heard. When you need $35,000 to donate to a campaign to get your voice heard, to have a meeting, that’s not democracy.”

"Occupy Los Angeles" protesters plan to begin a demonstration at City Hall on October 1. The "Occupy Los Angeles" Facebook page had nearly 2,000 likes as of Tuesday afternoon.

Another demonstration popped up in Chicago over the weekend. Around 20 "Occupy Chicago" protesters gathered at Willis Tower, formerly known as the Sears Tower, on Friday and then marched to the Federal Reserve Bank. Some protesters have remained camped out in front of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, and the organizers said the "occupation" had grown from 4 people to about 50.

Other "occupation" protests are being planned for Detroit, Denver, Cleveland, Boston, Phoenix, Seattle, Kansas City, Philadelphia, and Washington D.C. The site has been set up in hopes of coordinating the protests.

Although the New York Times described the protest as a "noble but fractured and airy movement of rightly frustrated young people" whose purpose was "virtually impossible to decipher," the demonstration has attracted some prominent voices in the progressive and liberal community.

Journalist Chris Hedges described the protest as “really where the hope of America lies.”

“The real radicals have seized power,” he asserted, “and they are decimating all impediments to the creation of a neo-feudalistic corporate state, one in which there is a rapacious oligarchic class, a thin managerial elite, and two-thirds of this country live in conditions that increasingly push families to subsistence level.”

MIT professor Noam Chomsky also said he supports the protest.

"Anyone with eyes open knows that the gangsterism of Wall Street -- financial institutions generally -- has caused severe damage to the people of the United States (and the world)," he said. "And should also know that it has been doing so increasingly for over 30 years, as their power in the economy has radically increased, and with it their political power."

Filmmaker Michael Moore and Current TV host Keith Olbermann both separately lamented the lack of substantial news coverage of the event, questioning why same-sized or smaller tea party protests garnered more attention than "Occupy Wall Street."

Even Stephen Colbert chimed in, wondering why his reporters couldn't find the stereotypical "mindless hippie argle-bargle" in the protest.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Love Police AZ: Chalking the Police 2011

Sometimes you need just need to step back and listen when the people have something to say - especially the youth.

This awesome video was composed and put up on YouTube by thelovepolicearizona.

Thanks for sharing it with the rest of us...

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The work of a true revolutionary...begins at home.

I just came home from court this morning, and finally had a chance to get my police report, detailing what I'm being charged with and what evidence is against me. I already gave them most of it in letters, blogs, and postcards about my protest. I was relieved I didn't have to actually enter a "not guilty" plea this morning, because after all that, it would seem pretty dishonest. I may have a defense against some of this, though, so I'm going to speak to the attorney they gave me at the public defender's office before digging a much deeper hole. But I still have amends to make to my neighbors, since I made such a thoughtless public display of vandalizing them. I even seemed to make light of it in the process.

See, this is all about me throwing that red paint down in an alley already covered in paint during the First Friday June Artwalk. I openly admitted doing that, and committed my act of resistance in front of the graffiti detectives themselves. In the process, though, my paint splattered a few inches up the wall of the building next door, an art studio/ collective that it turns out does work with people involved in mental health programs. I'm so clueless about some of my neighbors that I had no idea they were doing that kind of work, or I would have talked to them about this all in advance, even though I had no intention of hitting the alley side of their studio wall. Instead, I learned about my neighbors from my own criminal report, listing them as my victim. I feel pretty crummy about that.

In my police report, the manager of the place said she wanted to prosecute because what I'd done would have been so upsetting for some folks participating in the programs - which I inferred was of particular concern for those folks with pre-existing psychiatric conditions. I get that - and can see it upsetting others as well. That explains to me why it was important to clean it up, without messing around with my offer to re-paint it myself - even I would have called Graffiti Busters to clean up after myself if I thought it through. It really was unintended - that doesn't mean I'm not responsible, though. I acted out without much thought for the neighbors over there, or their members and guests. That's not very excusable, given what I could have brought out for some folks with images of bloodshed across the alley, as well as the names of the dead. That's me acting out my own unresolved trauma, in part - they don't need my help with theirs.

So, this blog post will no doubt be added to the evidence they use against me in the end, but I'm truly deeply sorry for having dragged you all into the middle of my protest. You're already doing your part to protect our people from ending up in prison in the first place. I hope that if my activities ever trouble you that way - criminal or not - you feel okay contacting me.

Most people with mental illness, by the time we're my age, have already been through too much.
I'm dually-recovering myself, survived a horrible, violent suicide of a loved one, and the last thing I would want to do is traumatize someone else further. We all need to feel safe in order to grow, and I undermined that for some folks, I suspect, by all my agitation and graffiti - which invited others to contribute more. I was also wrong to define the terms of resistance by my own standards without talking to others living and working around there that night, outside of what I call my own community.

I thought this protest would be all about getting my message out about the state's violence, not mine. It still is, in a way, but not how I thought it would be. It's been said that the work of a true revolutionary begins in the our own communities, taking care of others. Despite all I preach about the importance of doing so if we're to really hold each other accountable and not rely on the criminal justice system for amends to be made in cases like this, when it came down to it I didn't practice that. I think this is the bigger lesson in all this - it's for me, not for the cops. I understand why people get upset about graffiti, now. My total lack of concern for the effect of my actions that Artwalk on the people right next door is my real crime, though - even if I hadn't even touched their property.

But an apology alone is not an amends. I'm inclined to think that only those folks - and perhaps the participants they were concerned about - can say what they feel justice would be, having been harmed in some way by me - and I respect it if they feel the criminal justice system is the way to get that, and to restore their own sense of safety and order in their community. I'd have a pretty hard time pleading not guilty to that charge, after all this. The charges filed about city property, though, I'll probably fight.

I think I just threw myself at the mercy of the court - or my victims, I'm not sure which. I guess now I should wait until I talk to an attorney before commenting much further on all this. Thanks to my friends for showing their support today.


Margaret J. Plews, Editor
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

Prison Abolitionist
Arizona Prison Watch
Arizona Juvenile Prison Watch
Hard Time Alliance - AZ
Survivors of Prison Violence

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Prison abolitionist charged with criminal damage.

State violence is criminal damage, too...

Look what finally arrived - all that stuff from June's Artwalk night got kicked down to misdemeanors. There's more to come, though, I think. I've been trying to get the attention of the Superior Court justices, not these folks handling the misdemeanors. It hasn't been easy. Hopefully I won't have to commit more felonious acts of resistance to do so...

So, I guess my arraignment for this round of graffiti ("criminal damage") is September 13 at 8:45am. Come early if you want to help me chalk the walk - I'm working on a memorial to Arpaio's victims for the Municipal Court judges...

Arizona Department of Corrections' Deaths in Custody:
Victims of prison violence/neglect
January 2009-June 2011

(suicide & homicide rates doubled under Director Ryan)


Pete Calleros, Mando Lugo, Dana Seawright, Shannon Palmer, James Jennings, Alex Usurelu, William Gray, Ulises Rodriguez, Albert Tsosie, Sean Pierce, Jeremy Pompeneo


Susan Lopez, Tony Lester, Duron Cunningham, Lasasha Cherry, Geshell Fernandez, Patricia Velez, Angela Soto, Hernan Cuevas, Jerry Kulp, Robert Medina, Eric Bybee, Erick Cervantes, Rosario Bojorquez-Rodriguez, Douglas Nunn, Monte McCarty, James Adams, Patrick Lee Ross, Caesar Bojorquez, Angel Torres, Harvey Rymer, Dung Ung, Ronald Richie, Michael Tovar, Carey Wheatley, Michael Pellicer, Jessie Cota

Institutional INDIFFERENCE:

Brenda Todd, Marcia Powell, Tom Reed, Edgar Vega, Huberta Parlee


Pete Childs, William Engelbert, Santana Aqualais, Carl Cresong, Christopher Francis


David Moreno, Gilberto Lopez, Luis Moscoso Hernandez

Sunday, July 3, 2011

To Be Free: Nina, Marilyn, and Perryville Women's Resistance.

One of the best professors I've ever had, documentary producer HLT Quan, turned me on to Nina Simone during my course with her on Social Movements at Arizona State University a few years ago. Dr. Quan probably doesn't realize it, but she has a lot to do with me embracing prison abolition. I ended up dropping out of school to take all this on, in fact...

Anyway, this tune is to honor the women of Arizona's Perryville prison in Goodyear who have been resisting coercion and abuse of late, and fighting back by speaking out. That not only goes for those prisoners assigned to the Martori Farms work crew, but those who are contesting the poor medical care, writing letters to legislators about conditions, helping other women file grievances, and resisting in a host of other ways - some much more subtle, like teaching another woman to read.

Now, the prisoners can't watch this video, but imagine that just for a few minutes you can commandeer a guard station and the prison communications system. Lock yourselves in, pop open all the cells, crank out a soulful tune, and dance...that would almost be worth the price one would undoubtedly have to pay, once they broke in and took you down for it.

That's just a fantasy to enjoy, women, not advice.

I often play Nina in remembrance of poet and former political prisoner Marilyn Buck - known as "the only white member of the Black Revolutionary Army".
She was sentenced to 80 years for armed car robberies she carried out to fund liberation movements, as well as for the 1979 escape of Assata Shakur from a New Jersey prison. Marilyn and her comrades (see the Resistance Conspiracy) were also prosecuted for the 1983 bombing of the U.S. Senate building.

During her incarceration, Marilyn was known for her continued outspoken criticism of the US government and the prison industrial complex and her advocacy on behalf of other prisoners in addition to her art and poetry. Branded as one of the most infamous women "ter
rorists" of the 20th century, even after 15 years in federal custody Marilyn was considered such a threat that she was thrown into the hole and forbidden to even contact her attorney for two weeks after the attacks of 911, while they investigated any possible connection she had to them.

Because of that - and the officer and guards killed in the Brinks robberies - I never would have expected the feds to release her on parole. Never. What a blessing that they did. Marilyn developed an extremely aggressive cancer and was paroled on compassionate grounds last summer, two weeks before she died. She was always more free, however - even in prison - than most Americans who go through their lives as sheep.

Take some time to check out Marilyn's work
...start with the Wild Poppies CD at Freedom Archives. Here's the title piece...

Wild Poppies

Marilyn Buck

[This poem is read on the CD by Marilyn Buck. MP3 of this poem]

I remember red poppies, wild behind the school house
I didn’t want to be there, but I loved to watch the poppies

I used to sit in the window of my room, sketching charcoal trees
what happened to those magnolia trees, to that girl?

I went off to college, escaped my father’s thunderstorms
Berkeley. Rebellion. Exhilaration!

the Vietnam war, Black Power, Che took me to Chicago
midnight lights under Wacker Dr. Uptown. South Side. Slapped
by self-determination for taking Freedom Wall photos
without asking

on to California, driving at 3:00 in the morning in the mountains,
I got it: what self-determination means
A daunting task for a young white woman, I was humbled

practice is concrete … harder than crystal-dream concepts

San Francisco, on the front steps at Fulton St.
smoking reefer, drinking “bitterdog” with Black Panthers and white
hippie radicals, talking about when the revolution comes

the revolution did not come. Fred Bennett was missing
we learned he’d been found: ashes, bones, a wedding ring
but later there was Assata’s freedom smile

then I was captured, locked into a cell of sewer water
spirit deflated. I survived, carried on, glad to be
like a weed, a wild red poppy,
rooted in life

And this was one of Marilyn's last published essays, printed by Critical Resistance's paper, "The Abolitionist" (W2010):

Alternatives While Waiting: Self-Reliance
by Marilyn Buck

A community’s people, with their creative energy and labour, are the greatest resource it has, but an increasing number, mostly young, are MIA, in graves or prisons, into which so many rush obliviously when they act out Hollywood-constructed desires, images, and stereotypes to “make it” in the midst of still-white supremacist and hierarchical America. Far too many have embraced the 30 years of culturally-contrived amnesia that has mis-educated them to believe in the very system that exiles them to the cages. Valuable human beings – community residents, who could have and should have been the teachers, nurses, doctors, mechanics, public servants, and builders of their communities are disappeared.

Among the disappeared and exiled, many haven’t been formally educated or taught to read well, having dropped out or been driven out of the faltering California school systems, weakened both by funding and a general disregard for and animosity towards the children of the working and underemployed classes, particularly when Black, Latino, or Asian. There are a few, if any, educational or rehabilitation-geared programs within prisons. On a recent KPFA radio program, a freed elder pointed out that many of California’s prisons are on lock-down at any given time, meaning that the few programs that do exist, however reluctantly and apathetically, do not function much of the time.

In the prison charnel houses, forgetfulness or oblivion settles like quicklime on the spirit, intelligence and bodies of exiled and illegalized young people. A sense of responsibility to the community is replaced with rage, and beneath any posturing, despair, self-mutilation, and suicide.

Alternatives? To re-imagine communities with the resources to educate children, to provide work with sufficient income, to get drugs and the weapons of collective suicide out, to make the streets safe again for children, elders and the young women and men. This is similar to the 10-point program the old Black Panther Party called for, a program that in slightly different manifestations is still understood world-wide as necessary for community and nations’ health and well-being for peace and justice.

It’s never too later to learn, to get educated or develop the social or political conscience necessary to challenge the systematic social genocide of our communities. No one has to stay lost; no one is not subject to change. The question is: will you change yourself, have a hand in your destiny and development, or will you accept the changes forced at you by the prison systems’ dog-eat-dog programming that wants you to become a gladiator and a puppet?

There are many who are looking for ways to break such a decimating cycle. Meanwhile, what? The prisoner’s alternative is not to wait for alternatives and social change from the outside, but to begin a process of reconstruction on the inside.

To be a builder, or to be a demolisher, those are the choices. It’s easy to demolish, to destroy. You can be a one-man or a 100-man wrecking crew, but to build you have to become a bricklayer, willing to dig foundations, willing to take care of your neighbourhood and work with others. It means being humble and giving back because when you left you took a whole lot of human and community potential with you. It means learning what you need to know. Find a teacher, no matter whether they wear your colours, are your colour, or are low on the ladder of that peculiar prison concept of “respect.” (Prison culture doesn’t really give any prisoner true respect, or better-said, dignity; the man is still pulling the strings.) If you can’t earn a skill you want where you are (like being a doctor or an environmental engineer), learn all you can about the world. Learn about other societies; learn about communities’ fight for self-reliance and self-determination. Learn Spanish, or English, or Chinese. Or history. The more you study about the world, the better able you will be to see where you are and can go in the world. Choose to be on the side of the people who are not the greedy rulers and bosses.

Of course it’s easier to succumb to the haters who want to decimate your community, and to hang with those who participate in the suicide of their own communities through ignorance and individualism. Reignite your creativity and imagination that you may have put aside when you were 14 or that was discouraged in school. There is enough war from without, end the wars from within. Nothing can be build during a civil war, and certainly nothing can be defended from the war from without, without skills, knowledge and dignity of connection to and love for your community. Become a warrior for reconstruction.

Set a premium on education. No one can ever take it from you. Ultimately, knowledge and skills are more valuable than gold and SUVs, or anything you may have possessed for a few brief moments in life, before prison became your home with its prolonged lesson in absence.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Wal Mart, Women's Resistance, and Martori Farms

I've posted here and there already about Martori Farms and the news I was receiving from Perryville prisoners regarding the work conditions, but Vikki Law managed to unpack it, put it all into the larger context of women's resistance, and make sense of the women's complaints in a way I hadn't quite been able to. So, for those of you interested in the Martori Farms prison labor situation here in Aguila, Arizona, this is the best summary we have of it.

If you're interested in doing some organizing around these issues, please contact Vikki Law, as she's picking up the slack on this while I'm out with family matters. Vikki compiles the zine Tenacious for women prisoners, and can be reached at:

Victoria Law

PO Box 20388
Tompkins Square Station
New York, NY 10009

or e-mail:

She's on-line at her blog: Resistance Behind Bars, and you can order her book about women's resistance to the prison industrial complex through PM Press. Thanks again for this, Vikki...and to Truth-out for putting it up there.


Martori Farms: Abusive Conditions at a Key Wal-Mart Supplier

Friday 24 June 2011
by: Victoria Law
Truthout | News Analysis

(Photo: Walmart / Flickr)

In 1954, an 18-year-old black woman named Eleanor Rush was incarcerated at the state women's prison. She was placed in solitary confinement for six days.

On the seventh day, Rush was not fed for over 16 hours. After 16 hours, she began yelling that she was hungry and wanted food. In response, the guards bound and gagged her, dislocating her neck in the process.

Half an hour later, Rush was dead.

The next morning, when the other women in the prison gathered in the yard, another woman in the solitary confinement unit yelled the news about Rush's death from her window. The women in the yard surrounded the staff members supervising their activities and demanded answers about Rush's death. When they didn't get them, the women - both the black and the white women - rioted.

The riot lasted three and a half hours, not stopping until Raleigh, North Carolina, police and guards from the men's Central Prison arrived.

The women's riot brought outside attention to Rush's death. As a result:

  • The State Bureau of Investigation ordered a probe into Rush's death rather than believing the prison's explanation that Rush had dislocated her own neck and committed suicide.
  • Until that point, nothing in the prison rules explicitly prohibited the use of improvised gags. After the riot and probe, the State Prisons director explicitly banned the use of gags and iron claws (metal handcuffs that can squeeze tightly).
  • The prison administration was required to pay $3,000 to Rush's mother. At that time, $3,000 was more than half the yearly salary of the prison warden.
  • The prison warden, who had allowed Rush to be bound and gagged, was replaced by Elizabeth McCubbin, the executive director of the Family and Children's Service Agency. Her hiring indicated a shift from a punitive model toward a more social service/social work orientation.

The women themselves testified that they had rioted to ensure that Rush's death was not dismissed and that the circumstances would not be repeated.

Fifty-five years after Rush was killed in solitary confinement, Marcia Powell, a mentally ill 48-year-old woman incarcerated at the Perryville Unit in Arizona, died. The Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC) has more than 600 of these outdoor cages where prisoners are placed to confine or restrict their movement or to hold them while awaiting medical appointments, work, education, or treatment programs. On May 20, 2009, the temperature was 107 degrees. Powell was placed in an unshaded cage in the prison yard. Although prison policy states that "water shall be continuously available" to caged prisoners and that they should be in the cage for "no more than two consecutive hours," guards continually denied her water and kept her in the cage for four hours. Powell collapsed of heat stroke, was sent to West Valley Hospital where ADC Director Charles Ryan took her off life support hours later.

The ensuing media attention over Powell's death caused the ADC to temporarily suspend using these cages. Once the media attention faded, the ADC lifted the suspension.(1)

Abuses at Perryville have continued. The ADC has sent its prisoners to work for private agricultural businesses for almost 20 years.(2) The farm pays its imprisoned laborers two dollars per hour, not including the travel time to and from the farm. Women on the Perryville Unit are assigned to Martori Farms, an Arizona farm corporation that supplies fresh fruits and vegetables to vendors across the United States (Martori is the exclusive supplier to Wal-Mart's 2,470 Supercenter and Neighborhood Market stores).(3) According to one woman who worked on the farm crews:

They wake us up between 2:30 and three AM and KICK US OUT of our housing unit by 3:30AM. We get fed at four AM. Our work supervisors show up between 5AM and 8AM. Then it's an hour to a one and a half hour drive to the job site. Then we work eight hours regardless of conditions .... We work in the fields hoeing weeds and thinning plants ... Currently we are forced to work in the blazing sun for eight hours. We run out of water several times a day. We ran out of sunscreen several times a week. They don't check medical backgrounds or ages before they pull women for these jobs. Many of us cannot do it! If we stop working and sit on the bus or even just take an unauthorized break we get a MAJOR ticket which takes away our "good time"!!!

We are told we get "two" 15 min breaks and a half hour lunch like a normal job but it's more like 10 minutes and 20 minutes. They constantly yell at us we are too slow and to speed up because we are costing $150 an acre in labor and that's not acceptable.

The place is infested with spiders of all types, scorpions, snakes and blood suckers. And bees because they harvest them. On my crew alone, there are four women with bee allergies, but they don't care!! There are NO epinephrine pens on site to SAVE them if stung.

There's no anti venom available for snake bites and they want us to use Windex (yes glass cleaner) for scorpion stings!! INSANITY!!! They are denying us medical care here.(4)

Although Martori Farms contracts with the local fire departments to provide medical attention for injuries on the farm, farm supervisors do not always allow women to stop work when they need medical care. When "N" complained of chest pains, the farm representative refused to allow her to stop working. The next day, an hour after returning to work, she began experiencing chest pains. The farm representative told her, "Come on, the big bosses are here. You'll be in trouble if you stop. It's not break time. Work, work, work." "N" complied, working while in pain, until the break. She resumed working for another half hour before she experienced even more severe pains: "I have a steady deep dull pain with sharp stabbing pains periodically ... Then all of a sudden, I can't even lift the hoe in the air. My arms are no longer strong enough. By now, the chest pains are so bad it's knocking the wind out of me. I'm straight seeing stars. I tell our substitute boss officer Sanders I can't do it no more. I'm having really bad chest pains. I can't even lift the hoe anymore." The man accused her of faking these pains, but allowed her to stop working. While the woman was receiving medical attention, another farm representative stated, "Oh, so now they're gonna start faking fucking heart attacks to not work. Great."(5)

In addition, the prison has sent women to work on the farms regardless of their medical conditions. "N" was sent to West Valley Hospital where an emergency room doctor ordered that she be exempt from the farm work crew and any other physical exertion for three to four days. However, when "N" was returned to the prison, the nurse told her that they could not honor the doctor's order and ordered her back to work.

Another woman concurs. "There was one woman that is on oxygen, in a wheelchair, has an IV line and cancer that they sent to the gate to work on the farm ... The captain asked if she could stand. She said yes. His reply was if you can stand, you can farm. She told him no and was issued a disciplinary ticket."(6)

The women have not accepted these abuses quietly. They have launched complaints to prison administrators:

"Women have made their complaints on inmate letters and verbally to the lieutenant, sergeant, captains, deputy warden, counselors, supervisors and the major. Their solution was to give us an extra sack lunch and agree to feed us breakfast Saturday mornings. UGH!! Really ... food is not what we were asking for. Though being fed on Saturdays is nice. Yah! They were not feeding us Saturdays because that's a day Kitchen opens late because they give brunch on weekends. No lunch, so we were getting screwed! But as of this past Saturday they said they would feed us before work! Let's see how long it lasts."

Women have also stood up to unfair demands from the bosses at the farm. One woman recounted:

On Wednesday I go to work ... it's the second day in a row we are doing weeds. [I'm] up to my chest trying to weed to save a minimal amount of watermelon plants. Needless to say, the work was excessively hard - to put it mildly. So I must confess the day before I was "on one," so to speak. My haunted mind was lost in the past and so I was just trucking through the weeds, plowing them down, not even connecting with my physical exertion and pain. So the next day I was completely exhausted and physically broke down!! I was in so much pain because the day before I did like double the work everyone else did. So anyways, the M Farm representative was pushing me so hard trying to get me to produce the same results as the day before ... [He] has everyone at minimum teamed up helping each other plow through these weeds. Well everyone but me that is. I repeatedly asked him to give me a partner. I kept telling him that I was in pain. I also went as far as to tell him that I don't think I can do this anymore, to PLEASE give me a partner also. His response was "No. You're strong. You can do it by yourself." I told him not true; I over-exerted myself yesterday because I was going through some things. Now I'm hurt and need help.... He thought my pleas were funny. I hated to degrade myself and plea so I stopped and continued.

After "N" had finished her assigned row, the farm representative demanded that she finish weeding two other rows that had been abandoned. When she again requested a weeding partner, stating that she was in pain, the representative replied, "When you get to the end, I'll think about it."

By this time, all the girls are finishing their rows because they're all teamed up with 2 or three girls per row. Except me. So there are only two whole rows left on the field by now and he already placed six girls per row. That's twelve women on two rows. And I can't even get one helper. That's RIDICULOUS ... I tell him "Mariano all joking aside, all the others are finishing. Can I please get a helper?" He tells me "Seriously, no joking. When you get to the end, I'll think about it." At that point I'm pretty upset and broke down. I looked at him and said "Is that right?" I paused staring at him waiting for him to stop his male chauvinist domination games or whatever he's playing. When he didn't say anything, but just stared. I told him, "Fine Mariano I'm done. I can't do this anymore. I'm hurt and struggling through this. After what happened to me before I would think you would provide me help when I need it. Since you won't look out for my health and well-being, I will. Someone has to. I'm done for today. I'm going to sit on the bus."

The supervisor demanded that she return to work, threatening to call the prison to have disciplinary tickets written up. She refused.

At this point I'm so angry that this jerk would make me lose everything because I'm not submissive and I don't obey him like the women back in Mexico do that I admit I blew up and acted unprofessional. I told him "Mariano, Fuck you and your tickets. Go write them if you want. In fact I'll write them for you to make sure you get the facts straight."...

At this point the two women who were on the bus got all riled up and were yelling, "That's not fair. She's your best worker and you're going to punish her with tickets!!!" "She's hurt I heard her asking for help all day!" "We've been sitting on the bus for over an hour and we're not getting tickets, why is she the only one getting a ticket?"(7)

Not only did "N" stand up for herself, but the other women defended her actions at the risk of being ticketed as well. Their combined efforts ensured that "N" was not issued a ticket in retaliation for standing up for herself.

Women have also alerted outside advocates and activists about these inhumane conditions, again at great risk to themselves. If not for their courage in speaking out, the outside world would remain unaware of the exploitation and abuse on the farm.

While the women both endure and challenge these abuses, those outside prison gates remain largely unaware of their struggles. Those involved in social justice organizing need to recognize that prisons and prison injustices are exacerbations of the same social issues in the outside world and recognize that these struggles intersect. Safe from the retaliation of prison authorities, outside organizers and activists can and should raise their voices and take action to help the women inside challenge and ultimately stop these abuses.


1. As of April 15, 2010, these cages (or "temporary holding enclosures") remain in use. Arizona Department of Corrections, Department Order Manual, Department Order 704: Inmate Regulations.

2. Nicole Hill, "With Fewer Migrant Workers, Farmers Turn to Prison Labor," Christian Science Monitor, August 22, 2007. Reprinted here.

3. Press release, "16-Year Relationship Between Wal-Mart and Arizona Business Grows, Thrives," September 7, 2007. The 2470 figure is as of August 1, 2007.

4. Letter from "N," dated April 24, 2011.

5. Letter from "N," dated April 24, 2011

6. Letter from "H," dated May 22, 2011.

7. Letter from "N," dated May 7, 2011.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

"No one has a First Amendment right to deface government property..."

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.


Chalking Prohibited Outside White House, Appeals Court Rules

Blog of Legal Times

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."

Solidarity with Snowbowl Resisters: ADEQ Protest.

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.




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) -

For more info check out and