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political prisoners you should write today

March 11, 2010

Below I highlight some animal liberationists in jail. Unfortunately, this is not an exhaustive list of political prisoners in this country. These people are in prison because they live principled lives. Agree or disagree with whether these folks actually broke a law. Agree or disagree with whether its okay to break a law. Regardless of how you feel, these folks live principled lives for causes that matter. They at least deserve some company during their prison sentences. And if you have some extra cash, send that their way too. They could use it for things in the commissary or to help pay their lawyer fees.

All of these people are political prisoners. Our government has tried to silence them by locking them behind bars—for unusually long sentences in most cases. The government might try to silence them, but don’t leave them in silence. Let your letters keep them company. Or send a book to help pass the time. If you can, and I know you can, pick one prisoner on this list and commit to write to him or her until s/he is out of jail.

Something has gone terrible wrong in this world and in this country. That all these people are behind bars and have such harsh sentences is testament to that. Support them. Write them letters. Send them money. And whatever you do, do not let their fates scare you away from all the work that must be done toward creating a more just world. As a movement we must embrace these prisoners as our inspiration. We must learn from their bravery that some things are worth fighting for, no matter the cost.  We must show those that might try to repress us that we will not be silenced.

Here are 6 cases that resulted in many political prisoners. All addresses are at the bottom of the post. (Presented in chronological-ish order)…

MOVE 9[i]

MOVE is a group founded by John Africa. They lived in a veg*n commune in Philadelphia and worked to reject racial oppression. They faced years of sever police brutality. In 1978, nine members of the group were imprisoned for the death of a police officer. They all received sentences of 30-100 years for the same murder. That is right; one murder but nine separate sentences for that one murder. The officer was shot during a police raid and evidence suggests none of the MOVE 9 could have done it. There was only ONE bullet, but nine people were sentenced because the judge said that since they decided to live as a family, they would be sentenced as a family. (Apparently  choosing to love and support one another and adopt the same last name was threatening to this guy).

To add to all this bullshit, the government dropped a bomb on the MOVE house seven years later; leaving only two survivors. 11 people died that day, including five babies. After suffering so much repression, these people need to know that the world remembers and loves them.

SHAC 7 [ii]

Stop Huntington Animal Cruelty (SHAC) USA is a campaign aimed at Huntington Life Sciences (HLS), a company that is hired to perform experiments on animals. The defendants in this case ran a website with information about the location of homes and offices of executives whose companies did business with HLS, so that activists might go protest and pressure them to cut ties with HLS. This was a very successful campaign and so repression came down hard.

All defendants were tried under the Animal Enterprise Protection Act (AEPA) in 2004 and received sentences of two to six years for running this website, despite a disclaimer that they encouraged only legal protest and despite the fact that no evidence was submitted showing any of them ever participated in or knew in advance of any illegal protest activity.

Two of the defendants, Lauren Gazzola and Keven Kjonaas, are still imprisoned. Four defendants, Jacob Conroy, Darius Fullmer, Josh Harper and Andrew Stepanian, have been released (completely or to halfway houses).

Operation Backfire Prisoners: Jonathan Paul[iii] and Daniel McGowan[iv]

Jonathan and Paul were rounded up with a horde of animal and earth liberation activists (Joseph Dibee, Chelsea Dawn Gerlach, Sarah Kendall Harvey (nee Kendall Tankersley), Daniel McGowan, Stanislas Meyerhoff, Josephine Overaker, Jonathan Paul, Rebecca Rubin, Suzanne Savoie, Justin Solondz, Darren Thurston, Kevin Tubbs, and Briana Waters) in the FBI’s “Operation Backfire.”

Operation Backfire was a targeted assault by the FBI under the Bush administration on animal and earth liberation activists.

Daniel and Jonathan would not implicate the other defendants. Jonathan was “sentenced to 51 months in federal prison for his role in the July 1997 arson of the Cavel West horse slaughterhouse. The slaughterhouse was never rebuilt. Over 500 horses were tortured and slaughtered weekly at Cavel West.” Daniel also refused to snitch and so he was given a longer sentence than co-defendants for his role in several arsons targeting facilities that bolster and enable the abuse of our environment and animals.

Kevin Olliff [v]

Kevin is being prosecuted, ahem, I mean persecuted on “10 felony counts. These felonies are multiple counts of: stalking, conspiracy, conspiracy to stalk, and threatening of a public servant. His bail was set at approximately $460,000. He did not meet bail and is currently awaiting trial and on remand in [jail].”

Carrie Feldman[vi]

This young woman is one of my personal heroes. She is 20 years old and currently on 23-hours of solitary confinement every day for…

Refusing to testify at a grand jury hearing.

That’s right, she isn’t even accused of doing anything harmful to anyone. She simply refused to take part in an undemocratic process. She tells us why she is willing to suffer this persecution in her statement to the grand jury.

Grand juries were originally created to prevent arbitrary indictments, but are now used as a tool of the prosecution to gather information. Grand juries undercut basic rights supposedly granted in the Constitution by denying access to counsel and coercing testimony. They are now, and have been for some time, used to investigate and intimidate those who would express dissent.

This is only effective when we are complicit, when we are frightened, when we are divided. Today my voice may waver, as I stand alone in this room. But I know I speak with the voice of every one of my friends, loved ones, and comrades when I say this: We will not be intimidated. We will not cooperate. I have nothing more to say to you.

It is this bravery, it is this principled stand, it is this dedication to doing what is right and just and moral that has resulted in her extreme persecution.

William “BJ” Viehl[vii] and Alex Hall[viii]

These activists were arrested under the Animal Enterprise Terrorist Act (AETA), some of the most repressive legislation of our time, in connection with the liberation of 300 mink from a fur farm in Utah. They are both currently in prison awaiting trial.

What you can send: Each of the websites linked to for each prisoner will give more details, but here are the general rules: send books and magazines! But you have to send new copies directly from the publisher, Amazon or Barnes & Nobel. Photos and photocopies are also okay to send.

What you can’t send: These letters will be read by others, so don’t ask about details of their cases or tell them stuff you don’t want to anyone else to know.  You can’t send stamps or envelopes; prisoners must, generally, purchase these from the commissary (most of the websites linked to have links so you can donate money to this end.) Don’t send anything flamboyant like glitter (yeah, that seems pretty arbitrary to me too) but drawings and maybe even collages are acceptable. No newspaper or magazine clippings (but again, photocopies are okay). Check with each support page for more details.

[i] MOVE 9

One of the 9, Merle Africa, died in 1998

Michael Davis Africa #AM4973
Charles Sims Africa #AM4975
P.O. Box 244
Graterford, PA. 19426-244

William Phillips Africa #AM4984
Delbert Orr Africa #AM4985
1000 Follies Rd.
Dallas, PA. 18612

Edward Goodman Africa #AM4974
301 Morea Rd.
Frackville, PA. 17932

Debbie Sims Africa #006307
Janet Hollaway Africa #006308
Janine Phillips Africa #6309
451 Fullerton Ave.
Cambridge Springs, PA. 16403-1238

Mumia Abu Jamal #AM8335
175 Progress Drive
Waynesberg, PA. 15370

[ii] Lauren Gazzola # 93497-011

FEDERAL Federal Correctional Institution

FCI Danbury

Route #37

Danbury, CT 06811

Kevin Kjonaas #93502-011

Unit I

FCI Sandstone

P.O. Box 1000

Sandstone, MN 55072

[1] Jonathan Paul

[iii] Jonathan Paul
FCI Phoenix
Federal Correctional Institution
37910 N. 45th Ave.
Phoenix, AZ 85086

Friends of Jonathan Paul
PMB 267
2305 Ashland St., Ste. C
Ashland, OR 97520

[iv] Daniel McGowan
USP Marion – CMU
P.O. Box 1000
Marion, IL 62959

[v] Kevin Olliff #1300931
450 Bauchet St.

Los Angeles, CA 90012

[vi] Carolyn Feldman
770 Iowa St.
Dubuque, IA 52001

[vii] William James Viehl
Inmate # 2009-05735
Davis County Jail
800 West State Street
Farmington, UT 84025

[viii] Alex Jason Hall
Inmate # 2009-06304
Davis County Jail
800 West State Street
Farmington, UT 84025

8 Comments leave one →
  1. March 11, 2010 9:04 pm

    Will anyone promise to write one of these prisoners until s/he is out of jail?
    I do!

  2. June 21, 2010 8:37 am

    Hey, This is great. I was googling for info on green scare prisoners and came across your page. We do a poster of political prisoner birthdays every month to send them birthday cards. Let me know if you want to get on our mailing list and i can email you a pdf every month.

  3. June 21, 2010 1:50 pm

    Yes, write to ppbirthday at riseup dot net to sign up for our mailing list.

  4. October 26, 2010 3:02 pm

    birthday cards that are personlized are the best in my opinion, they really come from the bottom of the heart of the sender:”*

  5. October 7, 2011 1:26 pm

    hi, i must study this subject in details. would you help me ? thanks for your introduction. yours Gaptek Update

  6. September 15, 2012 9:43 pm

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  1. » Will anyone promise to write one of these prisoners until s/he is out of jail? NEGOTIATION IS OVER!

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