We have been too busy for the internet. Here's what's up...
1. Pelican Bay- we went to Ohio State Penitentiary for a "supermax to supermax" rally organized by the Lucasville Uprising Freedom Network. Before talking about the silly little action we did, I want to acknowledge both the amazing bravery of the hungerstrikers and the despicable apathy of the powers that starved them for four weeks (some are still refusing food). Read updates here. We made the group into about 15 people standing on the side of the road 1/4 mile away from the prison. Visitors came and waved. We chatted with folks and got sunburnt. Shift change happened and dozens of COs drove past scowling. We got bored and felt even more ineffectual than protests normally make us feel, cuz we were out of sight of both the inmates we were trying to express solidarity with and the administration we were trying to confront. So, we got our signs and some buckets and marched, past the no tresspassing signs making as much racket as we could. A couple other protesters joined us, including Brother Quahar of the new black panthers. We made it to the parking lot by looking at the ground, walking and not stopping with the noise every time a car pulled up next to us to try and talk to us. Finally in the parking lot an oily no-nonsense CO who clearly did not know how to talk with people he couldn't get away with beating up or macing with impunity informed us that the highway patrol was on their way to arrest us if we didn't leave immediately. We knew we weren't going to tear down any walls that day, and had important plans to come back and visit people the next morning, so we marched back, hoping at least half the inmates had seen or heard us. 20 minutes later 4 highway patrol cars rolled up and a much more polite officer told us that we ought not do that again. As usual he started with "who's in charge here" and when we told him no one was, he directed his statements at me, until Wes and Kate reminded him that they were there too.
2. ABC conference- We're going to the Denver ABC conference, and they've asked us to do a presentation on the Lucasville Uprising Prisoners. With that goal in mind, we visited Staughten and Alice Lynd at their house near Youngstown. They've both done a lot of work with the Lucasville cases, including writing the book on it. They have so much detailed knowledge to share. I feel like we could have talked to them all night, but we only had 45 minutes. Then we camped out in a thunderstorm, which was surprisingly fun. The next day we went back to OSP to visit Siddique Abdullah Hasan and Bomani Shakur. This was an inspiring and very enjoyable experience. Bomani and Ben shared handshakes and book references. Hasan, Kate and Weslie talked about all kinds of current events and political prisoner issues. We also discovered they're celled on the other side of the prison. We'll have to march around the whole perimeter to be seen by them. We got a much better understanding of their case and their preferences for what we tell ABC. We'll be going back soon, for the bigger challenge of talking with Jason Robb about his affiliation with the Aryan Brotherhood and ABC's tradition of refusing solidarity with white supremacist groups. We're very much looking forward to helping the complexities of the lucasville situation enrich discussion and analysis at the ABC conference.
3. Elkton FCI food strike - got a letter from the shitheads claiming that they can't give me any records I requested. They say it's part of an ongoing criminal investigation and I can appeal to a higher authority, which I will be doing.
4. The "what are prisons for" puppet show from Mysterious Rabbit and Puppet Army was really great. If you have a chance to see them, please do.