Report Back: IWOC-NYC Delivers South Carolina Prisoner’s Demands to United Nations

A Report Back from IWOC-NYC:

Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee- New York City. October 23rd, 2019. United Nations Headquarters, New York City.

In the face of long standing and severe abuses, our incarcerated comrades in South Carolina wrote a letter asking for humanitarian intervention to the United Nations, and asked for outside support in delivering it. As a group of New Yorkers, we travelled to the UN headquarters in solidarity and requested to give their letter to the High Human Rights Commissioner, Michele Bachelet. On the same date, comrades in the UK, Washington DC, and Jamaica were also delivering the letter to local UN offices in a show of widespread support.

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[Members of IWOC-NYC Prepare to go through security and deliver the demands of South Carolina Prisoners to the Headquarters of the United Nations in New York City.]

At the headquarters, we passed through security and walked to the information desk, letter in hand, explaining we there to ensure the letter was delivered as our comrades had asked. Immediately, security told us to put the letter away. We then tried to walk further into the visitors’ center, but we were told to leave, despite only having tried to hand them a letter. 

As we were being forced out of the building, we read the prisoners’ demands aloud and tried to unravel a banner, but they snatched our banner away from us and called a group of about a dozen security personnel. We were told we were not allowed to take photographs, even though they were photographing us repeatedly. They asked us to “go downstairs to talk it out”, but seeing as they were not detaining us, we exited the premises on our own accord. 

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[Before being forced out by armed security members of IWOC-NYC are able to read aloud the full demand letter from South Carolina prisoners to the UN representatives present.]

They said it is against UN policy for us to partake in any form of protest. However, it is also against UN policy to hold people in solitary confinement for 15 consecutive days, which is what is happening in South Carolina and across this nation. We engaged in a peaceful demonstration on behalf of prisoners’ who cannot deliver their own demands, due to being held in a cage without sunlight or recreation. We have learned from our comrades that prison is torturous. For us, human rights are more than something that should be codified in a tower and ratified by the elites of this world. For us, the expansion of human rights requires us to fight for those who are being oppressed. 

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[Armed Security at the UN Headquarters quickly grabbed the banner that was made before it was unfurled.]

We have seen the video of Allen Capers being left to die by correctional officers in South Carolina, we believe that to do nothing is to leave so many others to die. We know the history of the UN. We know human rights have always been abstractions to them, dating back to when the term was first introduced into their charter by Jan Smuts, formerly the Prime Minister of South Africa during a time period when the native people of his country were not even allowed the right to vote. We know the UN headquarters is built on land stolen from the Lenape people in a city whose government just last week voted to expand the prison industrial complex, has done nothing to prevent gentrification/mass displacement/homelessness, and whose police force criminalize and terrorize communities of color every single day. As such, we felt it was our responsibility to disrupt the UN in solidarity with our comrades, in hopes that the UN would confront the human rights abuses they are not only permitting but actively supporting every day.

To our comrades in South Carolina, we love you, we support you, and we will do whatever we can to continue supporting you, with the belief that we not only should, but can, abolish the prison industrial complex.

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[15 comrades gathered outside the UN Headquarters in New York City to attempt to deliver the demands of those incarcerated in South Carolina. While turned away by armed security they were still able to pass out hundreds of flyers to folks on the street informing them of the situation.]

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[A comrade from IWOC-NYC re-reads the demand letter outside the United Nations Headquarters.]

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[Armed UN Security guards still attempting to garb the banner in solidarity with South Carolina Prisoners even outside the building.]

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Want to help this effort? Call the South Carolina Department of Corrections and tell them we won’t rest until these demands are met! And then spread it around to all your friends!

Script Below:

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Abolition Means Decolonization: Support Incarcerated Native Activists on Indigenous People’s Day

On Turtle Island every day should be Indigenous People’s day. Each day we need to honor the land and remember that the colonial logic of extraction is the same logic that perpetuates the prison industrial slave complex. As companies and the government extract the vital resources our communities need for life they also extract Indigenous, Black, and brown bodies every day from our communities throwing them in cages atop the very land made toxic by their genocidal drive for profit above all else. Overlapping layers of colonial extraction that viciously target those most willing to stand up and fight, those willing to put their bodies on the line to protect the land and water. Indigenous peoples have always been at the forefront of these struggles and have always been targeted by the punitive components of the settler colonial state. We must remember that abolishing the prison industrial slave complex and decolonization go hand in hand. There can be no abolition without decolonization. Support our indigenous land and water defenders behind bars!

Follow and Boost the work of The Water Protector Legal Collective, NoDAPL Political Prisoners (More Info Below), the Indigenous Environmental Network, and all indigenous peoples.

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–Native American prisoners at the Fort St. Augustine, Florida [1875].

Here are just a few of many folks you can write to and support materially:

Leonard Peltier

Write to Leonard at:

Leonard Peltier, #89637-132 USP Coleman I, P.O. Box 1033, Coleman, FL 33521

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Donate:

“Your donation will help pay the significant legal expenses associated with Leonard’s case—filing and cost recovery fees, as well as attorney fees and travel, for example—in addition to community outreach and public education efforts conducted on his behalf.”

https://www.whoisleonardpeltier.info/donate-now/#open-overlay

About Leonard:

“Native American activist Leonard Peltier has spent over 40 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. Prosecutors and federal agents manufactured evidence against him (including the so-called “murder weapon”); hid proof of his innocence; presented false testimony obtained through torturous interrogation techniques; ignored court orders; and lied to the jury. People are commonly set free due to a single constitutional violation, but Peltier—innocent and faced with a staggering number of constitutional violations—has yet to receive equal justice.”

Learn more on how to support Leonard and the campaign for his freedom from the International Leonard Peltier Defense Committee at www.whoisleonardpeltier.info.

Red Fawn

Write to Red Fawn at:

RedFawn Fallis #16358059 Unit E, Federal Correctional Institution, 5701 8th St., Dublin, CA 94568

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Donate:

If Western Union is available to you, funds can go directly to their prison commissary by typing their name and their inmate number without the hyphen:

https://www.westernunion.com/us/en/send-money/app/sendinmatestart

RedFawn Fallis 16358059

Other options for commissary donation include:

Red Fawn: https://www.paypal.me/RedFawn303

About Red Fawn:

“Red Fawn was one of over 140 Water Protectors arrested at Standing Rock on Oct 27, 2016, while peacefully exercising their first amendment right to oppose construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) on treaty-protected land. But she was one of only a handful of people who received serious federal charges.

Bystander and drone videos of her arrest show a Pennington County Sheriff’s Deputy, Thadius Schmit, singling her out from among a crowd of protesters, tackling her from behind, and taking her down to the ground, followed by at least eight other heavily armed law enforcement officials piling on top of her. Shots erupted from the melee, and Red Fawn was arrested and charged by North Dakota with attempted murder of police officers. Those charges were later dropped and replaced with federal charges, including civil disorder, discharge of a weapon in relation to a felony crime of violence, and possession of a firearm and ammunition by a convicted felon. In the arrest affidavit, Schmit said he arrested Red Fawn for “being an instigator and acting disorderly” and in a hearing described this behavior as shouting “water is life and you’re killing Mother Earth and stuff of that nature.”

As reported by the publications the Intercept and the High Plains Reader, leaked documents have revealed that Red Fawn had been targeted for surveillance and possible arrest by a sprawling intelligence operation that included ETP, TigerSwan and other private mercenary firms hired by them, the FBI, and various levels of law enforcement–all conspiring to discredit and derail the growing resistance to the pipeline.

Leaked documents also revealed that the gun Red Fawn was accused of firing belonged to Heath Harmon, an FBI informant who had infiltrated her camp and managed to become her romantic partner–and who had been with her throughout the day she was arrested.”

Read and Learn more at https://nodaplpoliticalprisoners.org and https://www.standwithredfawn.org.

Red Fawn’s poem from lock up:

“My name is Red Fawn
I am a prisoner of war
My enemies have hunted me 500 years
You know their names
They are the Kings, the Queens
They are all the things that are slaves to greed and power

My name is Red Fawn
I am just one flower
I will not die
I will not cry
I will not bend or cower

My name is Red Fawn
My people know my name
They know the Sheriff’s shame
They know this Governor’s game
They know that I grow stronger every passing hour

My name is Red Fawn
I hear the people sing
Outside my window now
I hear the people
They sing my name”

Rattler

Write to Rattler at:

Michael Markus 06280-073 Unit I, FCI Sandstone, Federal Correctional Institution, PO Box 1000, Sandstone, MN 55072

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Donate:

If Western Union is available to you, funds can go directly to their prison commissary by typing their name and their inmate number without the hyphen:

https://www.westernunion.com/us/en/send-money/app/sendinmatestart

Michael Markus 06280073

Other options for commissary donation include:

About Rattler:

“Oglala Lakota tribal member Michael Markus (Rattler) was charged alongside 5 indigenous water protectors that aided others in the resistance camps engaging in nonviolent direct action to stop the desecration and construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) near the Standing Rock reservation in the years 2016-2017.

He’s currently incarcerated at FCI Sandstone (federal prison), serving a three year sentence from a non-cooperating plea for Civil Disorder, a charge that has mainly been given to those engaging in resistance movements (American Indian Movement, Black Liberation Movement, Anti-Vietnam War protestors, NoDAPL Water Protectors, etc.)

Rattler served as Akicita, a continuation of a traditional role among the Lakota that protect the peace and hold their own people accountable of their responsibilities for the collective. He gave necessary knowledge of militarized police tactics, scouting of DAPL, aided de-escalation during nonviolent direct actions, and helped those within camp to be safe and sober.”

Read more at https://nodaplpoliticalprisoners.org/8-people/1-rattler

Angry Bird

Write Angry Bird here (personal address):

James White, PO Box 755, Ft. Yates, ND 58538

Angry Bird is not incarcerated in federal prison, but he is consistently monitored while on probation. Caution regarding contents of letters must be used, as federal officers can search his home or belongings at any time.

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Donate:

Please support Akicita elder Angry Bird, currently under federal surveillance on probation, through his family’s and Tiospaye’s PayPal account: 

https://www.paypal.me/wacanga

About Angry Bird:

“James White (Angry Bird) references “two worlds” – life on the reservation at Standing Rock and life outside the reservation.

He’s an elder, army veteran, Akicita, and the only enrolled member of Standing Rock to get federal charges. This is part of the statement he wrtote originally for Judge Hovland:

I did what I thought was right for the safety of others I might have known and others who I never met. I tried to keep everyone safe in camp, and also to keep the water and the earth safe from danger that will occur in the future. …Life is tough for many, as we all know, and good for so few.  For us growing up, being in boarding schools was not so good.  But we are still living, trying to forget the pain and shame of what happened to me and so many others at a young age. The way people in the other world that you live in see us and judge us is easy to understand for they do not live in my shoes or climb the ladder I have to climb or had to climb. I tried to live in both worlds – as a vet and a father sending my offspring and others to the other world to make a better place. We all need to come to an understanding that we are killing the earth for money and profit. But we forget what we are destroying for our future generations. We need to come together as one – not as one better than the other – and to remember it’s going to take us all to help fix what we’re destroying.  If not for us, then for our children and children’s children to live.”

Read More at: https://nodaplpoliticalprisoners.org/8-people/6-james-white and www.facebook.com/justiceforangrybird

Dion Ortiz

Dion Ortiz has been transferred to a NM halfway house and is no longer incarcerated at FCI Sandstone. We will post Dion’s mailing address in the near future. Check https://nodaplpoliticalprisoners.org/write-letters for updates on where to write Dion.
 

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Donate:

Please support Dion and his immediate family while transitioning to Bureau of Prison’s halfway house in New Mexico: 

https://www.paypal.me/dionortiz

About Dion:

‘“My son had a purpose,” said Dion’s mother Christina Ortiz. “He had this image that he could help protect the water.

Water is life, that’s why he was there. Whatever he did to protect the water and the Water Protectors, he did out of love.”

“He made himself a warrior and involved himself for the people,” said Martina Ortiz, Dion’s 25-year-old sister. ”He was fighting for something sacred. To us he’s not only a brother and a son, he’s more like a hero to everybody now.”’

Read more at: https://nodaplpoliticalprisoners.org/8-people/3-dion

Little Feather

Michael Little Feather Giron was transferred to a ND halfway house and is no longer incarcerated at USP Hazelton. He’s currently transitioning to probation out of the halfway house, with a new address for receiving letters still pending. Check https://nodaplpoliticalprisoners.org/write-letters for updates on where to write Little Feather.

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Donate:

Please support Little Feather and his immediate family while transitioning to Bureau of Prison’s halfway house in North Dakota:

https://www.paypal.com/paypalme2/lcowboy

Venmo: leoyla-cowboy-1

About Little Feather:

“Michael “Little Feather” Giron is the first Water Protector sentenced in relation to the NoDAPL pipeline movement at Standing Rock.

Little Feather [was] sentenced to 36 month federal prison term pursuant to a non-cooperating plea agreement.  Please take a moment and donate to him through this website. Additional updates and video interviews about Little Feather can be found on the Water Protector Legal Collective website and facebook.

Statement from Little Feather on June 4, 2018. “Please let our people know that I love them and I’m honored to be where I am at for them. I want our people to know also to never give up hope on our movement. Our struggle is only the beginning and that we need to remember that what we stood for and fight for are the essence of our movement  Mitákuye Oyás’iŋ”.”

Read more at: https://nodaplpoliticalprisoners.org/8-people/4-little-feather

Mama Julz

Donate:

Julie Dreamer via Paypal at paypal.me/julzrich

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Longtime friend of Fight Toxic Prisons, Julie Richards (Oglala Lakota), aka Mama Julz, is a frontline water protector, land defender, and the founder of the Mothers Against Meth Alliance. Mama was the first to lock down to DAPL equipment at Standing Rock and has taken similar direct action across the country. Mama faces several state and federal charges for her activism but has not let this stop her. In the meantime Mama Julz runs Mothers Against Meth Alliance (M.A.M.A) who’s mission is to provide competent and compassionate advocacy, community action, media outreach, drug education, and provide rehabilitation resources that reflect the traditions and customs of the Lakota Nakota, and Dakota people for all those affected by methamphetamine addiction, their families, and their communities. Julz educates on the troubling connection between meth addiction, oil extraction, and the epidemic of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls.

Solidarity with 3,000 Kurdish Hunger Strikers

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There has been an ask for international solidarity for the 3000 prison hunger strikers fighting towards Kurdish autonomy in so-called Turkey. 15 of them are beginning a death strike (refusing supplements) starting on May 1st.

May Day is international worker’s day, and we know that prisoners make up a major unrecognized part of the global labor force. Middle Eastern prisoners are even further left out of our conversations. It’s up to us to show solidarity across borders- Join us in applying pressure to the Turkish government to hold them accountable.

Contact The US Embassy of the Republic of Turkey

Phone: (202) 612-6700 (press 0 for the operator)

General Fax: (202) 612-6744

Consular’s Office Fax: (202) 319-1639

E-mail: embassy.washingtondc@mfa.gov.tr

Mail: 2525 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington DC 20008

Sample Call/ E-mail/ Fax script: 

” Hello, I’m calling today to express my concerns about the 3,000 people hunger striking in 90 prisons across Turkey at the moment. Their health and human rights are in danger and the Turkish authorities must give attention to their demands. Justice and democracy are not functioning in Turkey.

Nine MPs from the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), including the party’s former co-presidents, are currently imprisoned. A person with significant political and moral influence to solve the Kurdish problem, Abdullah Öcalan, has been in prison for 20 years and kept in total isolation since 2015. He hasn’t even been allowed to speak with his family or his lawyers in violation with Turkish and International Law. In the last two years, more than 160,000 people have been jailed in Turkey, 700 of which include children. Of the 3,000 hunger strikers, a group of 15 are beginning a “death strike” on May 1st, meaning they will stop accepting any kind of vitamin supplements or nutrients.

The Turkish Government must answer the demands of the hunger strikers by ending Abdullah Ocalan’s isolation and ending mass arbitrary political incarceration. We will continue following up until the demands are met ”

 

Notes: 

  • don’t give any unnecessary personal information
  • if you can speak Turkish, use it!
  • record calls when possible, & send recordings and report any new information to fighttoxicprisons@gmail.com

 

More background on the issue: 

Washington Post Article from April 30th: https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/rights-group-3000-prisoners-on-hunger-strike-in-turkey/2019/04/30/d55fc216-6b37-11e9-bbe7-1c798fb80536_story.html?utm_term=.9b47c791d3cd

A May Day message from the #Rise4Rojava campaign:  https://internationalistcommune.com/message-for-the-1st-of-may/

Find a list of Turkish consulates in the US here: http://www.bu.edu/abroad/files/2014/07/Turkish-Consulates-list.pdf

Shocking Video of Toxic Conditions Emerges out of Lieber Correctional Institution, South Carolina

 

Shocking footage has emerged from inside Lieber Correctional Institution in South Carolina. Orange water from the running faucet and sewage water flooding cells were captured on video from inside of the prison which is known for human rights violations of the people incarcerated there.

Lieber CI has been on an indefinite lock-down since April 2018. Inmate’s windows have been blotted out by storm shutters and calls to SCDC and the warden’s office have yielded only defensiveness and aggression, “Those shutters aren’t coming down! They can see rays of light through the slats.”

Concerned masses have flooded the institution with calls only to be hung up on, screamed at and delivered terse narratives that “the inmates are liars.” Denying clean drinking water and forced exposure to sewage while caged, which puts the incarcerated population at risk for a Hepatitis A [HAV] outbreak, are blatant and severe human rights violations that need to be addressed NOW.

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Still from Lieber video of discolored running faucet water.

Incarcerated populations are already particularly vulnerable for contracting HAV, Hepatitis A is spread through contact with feces of infected persons or through contaminated food or water. Drug users, individuals experiencing homelessness, people in prison and people who live in unsanitary conditions are at a higher risk of contracting the virus.

It is clear through numerous phone zaps placing pressure on those who create and exacerbate unsafe conditions for the incarcerated inside of Lieber that they are well aware of the violations they continue to commit.  Warden Randall Williams’ office has been particularly adversarial and hostile towards anyone asserting that rights of inmates be recognized.

These operations are under the watch of South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster who, like Warden Williams, has been consistently made aware of right’s violations inside of Lieber, yet violations continue unabated.

An ongoing campaign demanding an end to the indefinite lock-down continues.  Meanwhile, in the silent space of failed response from every complicit institution in this disaster, inmates have died from deadly violence and suicide in the anxiety and trauma-inducing 24-7 conditions they are forced to exist within.

Institutions committing these abuses must be continually exposed and confronted until violations cease, clean water is restored and dignity is recognized.