gregory_a_k

“What the bourgeoisie therefore produces, above all, are its own grave-diggers.”—Karl Marx
gregory_a_k » Posts for tag 'Eric Garner'

A Few Thoughts

In prison, if you’re not a complete idiot, you recognize rather quickly that it is wise to refrain from putting things on paper. Especially when you know that things can always be twisted by the administration to put you in a more fucked up place.

I spent my first Christmas in prison when I was 18 – I had spent the previous Christmas when I was 17 in the county jail just before going to trial from solitary confinement and being sentenced to 20 years in prison for a gang-related shooting. I was in Joliet prison at the time – if you’ve seen The Blues Brothers, it’s the prison Jake gets out of in the beginning of the movie. Joliet prison is a medieval-castle-looking monstrosity that was built by convicts in 1858 – prior to the Civil War!

Photo Attribution By I, Daniel Schwen, <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/" title="Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0">CC BY-SA 3.0</a>, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5267339

Photo Attribution By I, Daniel Schwen, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5267339

It was also the last max joint that still had college classes at the time. I got my GED within a few months of being there, they said I got the highest score on the test that they’d seen in years, and the GED teacher asked me to work for him as a teacher’s aid. I found the notion of working for the prison that was holding me captive to be a patently absurd idea, but given that he was a pretty nice guy and seemed to genuinely care about the guys getting some semblance of education in his class, I reluctantly agreed to try it out. That lasted a couple weeks before I was sent to seg for some stupid shit. I think the college classes I was taking went out the window then too. Plus I got bored with the stupid homework, which I’ve always detested – pointless busywork. They had some graduation party for the GED class too, where they let people come in from the streets and had nice food and whatnot – I refused to even go to that shit. I didn’t get my GED to “impress” anyone in the system and I certainly wasn’t interested in legitimizing the institution holding me captive.

Gregory Koger GED Transcript Joliet Prison

Gregory Koger GED Transcript Joliet Prison

At Christmas time my grandma, being the kind soul that she was, decided to send me and my celly at the time Christmas cards with money orders for a few bucks. I don’t remember the exact amount, could have been $10 or $25 or something like that. And we both were served “tickets” from the administration of the prison for “trading and trafficking” – because my grandma decided out of the kindness of her heart to send me and my celly Christmas cards with a couple bucks to both of us.

Just one example of how a tender, kind, humane gesture was criminalized by the “authorities” of the “correctional” department of the state of Illinois.

So, I had kept a long practice of not writing things down on paper, because the prison administration could take anything and turn it into some “infraction” if some petty motherfucker with nothing better to do with their time decided that they wanted to fuck with guys who “The People of the State of Illinois” deemed guilty of some “offense” worthy of imprisonment.

I know I should probably be spending more time putting some of this writing into a format that will be useful for the book, but if I never make it to the point where anything I get written actually makes its way into a piece of literature that is deemed worthy of being printed in ink on dead trees by whoever decides such things, then none of this shit is gonna matter any way.

So this will be what it will be. And frankly, there’s a lot of shit that I need to get out of my head. I’ve made both some serious attempts and made some serious progress in getting real work on the book underway. But I’ve also realized that given where I’m at and what I’m dealing with, this process is going to be longer than I’d like or expected. And whether I want to be ok with that or not, I have to be ok with that because that is the reality of what I’m dealing with in my life.

And to me writing is a social act. It’s meant to be shared. If I keep everything in my head, it’ll never have a chance of being shared, or be of any value whatsoever to someone, somewhere, even if it’s only as an example of what not to do. But nothing else really seems to be working.

And I’ve missed just being able to try to work through some of my thoughts on my website. There were some real, legitimate strategic reasons why I perhaps should have taken some more care and thought to what I was writing here prior to my lengthy struggle taking on the political prosecution initiated by the “Ethical Humanist” Society of Chicago in conjunction with the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office and Skokie police (and whoever else had input in it). But there were also other less than healthy and legitimate reasons that led to curtailing my use of the one significant place where I could write in a public forum (even if no one ever reads my website) and work through some things in my head.

And at a time in my life when I’ve been attempting to take some very initial steps of doing things most people do in the years that I spent as a teenager in prison, as well as attempting to recover from years in prison and solitary confinement as well as said multi-year political prosecution and being locked up again, I’ve had both my adoptive parents die. And a number of people who allegedly were friends and comrades of mine have shown quite clearly that that was not in fact the case.

So in many ways I’ve been more isolated than I’ve been in a long time. Some good friends and comrades of mine have continued to stand with me, and that has been tremendously important and something I’m quite grateful for. But having both of the people who were as close to parents as I’ll ever have die within 10 months of each other, and having a large number of people that you’ve worked closely with for many years essentially ex you out on some pretty seriously ridiculous pretense – AFTER I have spent years disregarding my own personal issues and health in order to be involved in the broader struggle against the many injustices of this system, and been on the front lines in that struggle many times… Yeah, not the most helpful combination of things for me to have to deal with by myself when I’m already deep in a fucked up hole from being locked up and tortured for years.

Hearing about MarShawn McCarrel‘s death on Monday night was quite hard to take. The fact that no one else I was with said one word about it, and didn’t even seem to know about it, made it even harder. I was down at the University of Illinois in Champaign because a good friend of mine, Brian Nelson, was invited down there to speak Tuesday and Wednesday about both his experience in solitary and the work he does with Uptown People’s Law Center and helping other prisoners and their families fight against the criminal system of injustice in the United States.

It’s hard to talk about that experience. Frankly, most of the time that I’ve spoken publicly about it I speak more about the broader political history and agenda of solitary and the need to fight to end it rather than the specifics of how it affected and continues to affect me. And I’m quite disturbed by the paucity of serious criticism of the pervasive use of torture in the form of long-term isolation in solitary confinement that the United States is using on tens of thousands of men, women, and children on any given day. Even groups and people who do a lot of important work around mass incarceration have, in my estimation, been far too complacent in accepting the crumbs of “reform” on what is torture. You cannot be taken seriously – not by me, at least, or anyone with consistency of principles –  if you applaud torturing a few less people, or banning a torture practice for juveniles but continuing it for adults.

And, as we continue to see, the police murder of people of color has not abated one iota since those nights a year and a half ago when the people in Ferguson really put this struggle on the map internationally. Even with all the important and militant actions that many people have bravely and courageously been doing since then, risking their lives and health and futures – including protestors like Josh Williams (a young brother I’m deeply honored to have met and to have stood shoulder-to-shoulder with on the front lines in Ferguson) spending more time in jail for protesting than any one of the pigs who killed Michael Brown, Rekia Boyd, or Eric Garner have spent.

If any other government was murdering it’s own citizens every single day – on video, in public, in utterly outrageous and disgusting circumstances – that government would be the target of an international campaign of condemnation, it would be considered a rogue nation, it would have sanctions levied against it and its leaders would be criminally charged – and probably an international military coalition would come in and take out that government. The United States is doing that and much more every single day. Juan Mendez, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, is barred by the U.S. government from investigating the torture practices of solitary confinement in U.S. prisons. These are life and death daily realities for tens of millions of people of color – Black folks in particular. This is utterly illegitimate and must be stopped – now.

This isn’t meant to be some super-serious analysis or fully developed critique. Things have been quite hard for me and hearing about MarShawn made the day much harder, juxtaposed with some of the discussions and things I’ve been dealing with, it just made me feel it was way past time I tried to write, more or less unfiltered, on my website and try to get some of this shit out of my head.

Because as many times as I’ve tried to explain to even some dear friends of mine that I feel both care about my wellbeing and have some real understanding of solitary, almost no one gets how seriously this shit affects us every moment of every day. And I was attempting to have a serious discussion about this with some of my friends and that conversation got sidetracked into a different discussion about respectability politics and some other shit. Which in a certain sense is fine, but on another level I really felt like even that was an example of how when I was trying to get some shit out of my head about how all of this is affecting me, and trying to share with some friends of mine about that, that point got completely subsumed in another separate discussion on respectability and language (which in and of itself was not necessarily a bad thing to discuss).

Anyhow, I gotta start getting more of this shit out of my head… So maybe I’ll be on here a little more frequently.

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Shut It Down: APRIL 14—STOP BUSINESS AS USUAL!

Call From The Stop Mass Incarceration Network:

APRIL 14—STOP BUSINESS AS USUAL!

WE WILL NOT GO BACK! NO SCHOOL! NO WORK!

SAY NO MORE TO THE SYSTEM GIVING A GREEN LIGHT TO KILLER COPS!

This Call for a day of massive resistance all over the country on April 14 was adopted at the national meeting hosted by the Stop Mass Incarceration Network in Atlanta on February 7 and 8. Everyone needs to get on a mission to work from now to April 14 to make the day of stopping business as usual as powerful as possible to end the system putting its stamp of approval on police murdering people.


The people have stood up. Beginning in August with the youth in the streets of Ferguson and continuing through the end of the year, all across the country, thousands and thousands of people took to the streets to stop the murder of Black and Brown people at the hands of the police. People blocked highways and bridges, marched through shopping malls stopping commerce as usual, did die-ins everywhere, walked out from school, and shook this country to its core, opening the eyes of millions around the world to the brutal reality that time and time again police kill Black, Brown, and other people of color with impunity. For many people, this was the first time they had ever marched and demonstrated. This outpouring was long past due and was a real advance in the people’s struggle to stop this horror.

Now we are at a crossroads: will the authorities succeed in suppressing our resistance, or will we move forward on the offensive and bring even more massive waves of struggle to STOP the murder of Black, Brown, and all people by the police?

WE WILL NOT GO BACK!

On April 14, we will take our movement to STOP wanton police murder to a whole new level. NO SCHOOL! NO WORK! STOP BUSINESS AS USUAL!

On this day, thousands of students must walk out of school, take over buildings and go on strike at colleges and high schools nationwide. People must gather and march in cities all across the U.S. The normal routine of this society includes wanton police murder of Black and Brown people. Everyone must disrupt that normal routine.

Our demands are clear:
* The murder of Black and Brown people by the police MUST STOP.
* Justice for all the victims of brutal, murdering police.
* Indict, convict and send killer cops to jail—the whole damn system is guilty as hell.
* Stop the repression targeting the protests—Drop all the charges against all those arrested.

The business as usual of police killing our people and never being punished is a concentration of an overall program of mass incarceration and all its consequences that has tens of millions of people living their lives caught up in the criminal “injustice” system of this country. A hidden part of this program is the demonization, criminalization, deportation, and murder of immigrants. This must stop. Will our righteous protest and the people’s determination to STOP this be suppressed with threats and empty promises? Will that business as usual continue? Or will we retake the initiative to lead, YES, millions back out into the streets, not stopping until the police murder of Black and Brown people stops? This is the challenge we face. All of us must act on April 14 to loudly declare we will not go back, stop the police murder of our people.

Contact us for more information:
Email: stopmassincarceration@gmail.com FB: stopmassincerationnetwork
Twitter: @StopMassIncNet Phone: 347-979-SMIN (7646) stopmassincarceration.net

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Stop Mass Incarceration Network: Come to Atlanta on February 7 & 8 to Be Part of Planning to Take the Resistance to Police Murder to a Higher Level!

From Stop Mass Incarceration Network:

Come to Atlanta on February 7 & 8 and Be Part of Planning to Take the Resistance to Police Murder to a Higher Level!

If you took to the streets in outrage after police murdered Eric Garner, Michael Brown, John Crawford, Ezell Ford, Tamir Rice, Mayra Cornejo, Akai Gurley, and so many others in the past few months alone…

If you live in the communities targeted by brutal, murdering police, or are a young person, or a student, or someone who believes in justice…

If you are in an organization, new or old, or a faith-based group, or not in any organization at all…

If you stood up in the fall or winter against police murder, or if you felt you should have stood up…or if you are just someone who feels that all this is INTOLERABLE..

If you want to see what began this summer and fall go to a higher level…

If you are determined to make this STOP…

Then YOU are Invited!

The Stop Mass Incarceration Network (SMIN) invites you to participate in a meeting to map out plans to build on the powerful, beautiful and very necessary outpourings of people all across the country calling for an end to the system putting its stamp of approval on police murdering people. This meeting will be held in Atlanta on Feb 7 & 8.

If 1000’s of people across the country hadn’t stood up and said NO MORE in response to the grand juries refusing to indict the cops who killed Michael Brown and Eric Garner, those murders would’ve been swept under the rug. But because we stood up, millions of people were challenged to look at how police kill people all the damn time and how the system never punishes cops for their murderous acts.

The authorities have worked desperately to recapture the offensive from the movement of resistance. They have arrested 100’s of protesters and tried to demonize the protests. They seized on the killings of 2 police officers in Brooklyn on December 20 to call for the protests to stop. We must not back down in the face of their offensive. The police haven’t stopped killing people, and the system hasn’t stopped giving killer cops a pass. So we must continue to take to the streets and call for these horrors to end. People have been doing this. But we must take our resistance to a higher level.

To that end, SMIN has issued a draft Call for a Shutdown Day on April 14, a day of massive resistance all over the country, with students at 1000’s of schools going on strike, taking over buildings and more; and people gathering in cities nationwide to disrupt America’s business as usual. And SMIN is developing a plan of resistance to build up to April 14.

If you want to see the horror of police wantonly murdering people STOPPED and are ready to get down to serious work to STOP it, come to this planning meeting in Atlanta. Be part of enriching and further developing the plans for the Shutdown Day in April. And be part of developing a plan for resistance that builds up momentum to a powerful day of resistance in April.

The authorities have declared that the normal routine of this society will continue to include wanton police murder of Black and Latino people. This normal routine must be disrupted.

Come to Atlanta on February 7 & 8, & be part of planning out how to do that!

 

Contact the Stop Mass Incarceration Network at: 

Email: stopmassincarceration@gmail.com
FB: stopmassincerationnetwork
Twitter:@StopMassIncNet
Phone: 347-979-SMIN (7646)
See more at: http://www.stopmassincarceration.net/

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October Nationwide Protests to Stop Mass Incarceration Aimed at Epidemic of Police Killings, Injustice of Solitary Confinement, Racial Profiling, Imprisonment of Immigrants

October Nationwide Protests to Stop Mass Incarceration Aimed at Epidemic of Police Killings, Injustice of Solitary Confinement, Racial Profiling, Imprisonment of Immigrants

Pledge of Resistance

Chicago Kickoff Of Month of Resistance to Mass Incarceration, Police Terror, Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation

  • October 1, 2014 – Chicago Press Conference and Protest 
  • 8:30am at Cook County Jail (26th & California) 
  • 5pm at Thompson Center (Randolph & Clark)
  • For further information Contact Stop Mass Incarceration Network: 312-933-9586


Vowing a month of actions which stand like a giant STOP signto American society so that protest of mass incarceration, police murder, torture in prisons, criminalization of a generation and attacks on immigrants can’t be covered up, whited out, ignored, neutralized or suppressed,organizers announced plans for the October 2014 Month of Resistance to Mass Incarceration, Police Terror, Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation.

A wide variety of organizations will hold street protests, symposiums, campus actions, outreach to prisons and courthouses. Initiated by revolutionary communist leader Carl Dix and Union Theological Professor Dr. Cornel West, the Call for the month is endorsed by families of those killed by police, former prisoners, clergy, academics, and community organizations, and public figures such as Chuck D, who recorded for the Month, and Alice Walker, whose poem “Gather,” is dedicated to Dix and Dr. West.

Dix has said “Like so many others I saw the video of police choking Eric Garner as he cried out ‘I can’t breathe.’ In Ferguson, MO I stood at the spot where a cop gunned down Michael Brown and left his body lying for hours. I protested his murder, and was picked out for arrest because I spoke in support of the youth righteously demanding ‘THIS MUST STOP!’ In October, tens of thousands of people from many different backgrounds will join together all across the country to act to stop it.”

Photo: FJJ

Photo: FJJ

Oct 1, 8:30am Chicago Protest at Cook County Jail & Press Conference  

Speakers will include:

  • Gregory Koger, former prisoner and revolutionary communist activist with the Stop Mass Incarceration Network. Gregory is a torture survivor who spent over six years straight in solitary confinement in U.S. prisons. He spent most of August in Ferguson, MO.
  • Hannibal Salim Ali, former prisoner with the Stop Mass Incarceration Network, whose nephew, Anjustine Hunter was killed by police in Tennessee;
  • Mark Lewis Taylor of Princeton Theological Seminary* and founder of Educators for Mumia Abu-Jamal;
  • Bill Ayers, Distinguished Professor of Education and Senior University Scholar at the University of Illinois*, Chicago (retired).
  • Family members of prisoners, ex-prisoners, family members of people killed by the Chicago police, students, community activists, revolutionaries, religious leaders.
Photo: FJJ

Photo: FJJ

Oct 1, 5pm Chicago Protest at Thompson Center & Press Conference

Speakers at Thompson Center at 5pm include:

  • Gregory Koger, Stop Mass Incarceration Network;
  • Ricky Ford, father of Denzel Ford shot 8 times by Chicago police;
  • Stephanie Curtis, Roosevelt University Students for Stop Mass Incarceration Network
  • Charles Perry, Trinity United Church of Christ*
  • Leon Bailey, Ph.D., Roosevelt University*
  • Brian M. Orozco, Attorney with Greg Kulis and Associates*, who has worked on criminal, civil, and family law cases for inmates in both California and Illinois, interacting with over 150 incarcerated clients in the process.

*for identification purposes only

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