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

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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To My Brothers and Sisters Locked Down Behind the Walls: A Nationwide Call for a Cessation of Hostilities Between Street Organizations to Take the Struggle to Combat the New Jim Crow to a Higher Level

To my brothers and sisters locked down behind the walls:

One important dynamic that developed during the historic uprising in Ferguson, Missouri, that began last August after the police execution of 18-year-old Michael Brown for “walking while Black” was that brothers and sisters who the morning before were into it with each other in rivalries between different street organizations and other conflicts, courageously and defiantly stood together in the face of racist pigs desperately trying to repress the rebellion. The world watched the people of Ferguson stand boldly and unrelentingly in the face of old-school Jim Crow tactics like threatening people with snarling, vicious police dogs straining on leashes held by white cops, to the New Jim Crow-era tactics of armored assault vehicles with snipers atop aiming down their sights at women and children holding hand-lettered “Justice for Mike Brown” posters, body-armor and desert-camo-clad SWAT teams with assault rifles and no ID tags, and the flash-bangs and tear gas of advancing police blockades attempting to push the overwhelmingly Black protesters out of the streets — their utterly failed attempts to get people to “go away” and get this rebellion off the streets and out of the view of the world.

In the face of all of that — and I was there personally on those front lines in those first days, in that tears gas with the people of Ferguson — many, many young brothers and sisters who live every day with the boot of these racist pigs on their necks for the first time saw and experienced the power of standing collectively against the real enemy — the police, the armed enforcers of this whole racist, oppressive system. Blue, red, Crips, Bloods, GDs, Vice Lords, Folks, People — it didn’t matter what organization they represented, or who they rode with — what mattered was that for the first time in way too damn long the people refused to accept another police murder of another Black youth, and the daily repression of police-state New Jim Crow America.

And those of us who have spent time behind the walls, many of us have had similar experiences when we are locked down with brothers and sisters who are in different street organizations, or of difference races. We’ve had the chance to stand together and put those differences aside in the face of our real enemy. Many of you, I’m sure, know of (and some of you, like myself, took part in and/or supported) the California prison hunger strikes in 2011 and 2013. Tens of thousands of prisoners, of all different racial backgrounds, from many different street organizations, came together and put their lives on the line to demand an end to the torture of solitary confinement and demand humane treatment. In fact, the lead organizers of the California prison hunger strike collectively issued an Agreement to End Hostilities in August 2012, in which they called on brothers and sisters locked up across California — as well as on the streets — to put aside their differences and direct the struggle towards the oppressors running this system.

These examples show the power and potential of what we can collectively accomplish when we stand together and recognize who our real enemies are. And look, we know the youth are far too often engaged in rivalries and violence against each other, all of us locked on the bottom of this society, fighting over crumbs or for a little respect. Many of us have been caught up in and been part of that ourselves, myself included. This must be transformed, we must be part of transforming ourselves, and the world.

I’ve been through that struggle myself. I was never no “big time shot caller” or anything, but during my time in prison — particularly during the years I did in solitary confinement — I began to see how all the shit we were going through to try to survive on the bottom of this society was part of how this capitalist system operates. And through a lot of study and struggle, in which this newspaper (Revolution) was very integral, I came out of prison and got involved in the movement for revolution. Because nothing short of revolution is going to end this — the world doesn’t have to be like this and can be radically different.

But you don’t have to be a revolutionary to see and know that if we put aside our differences, especially those of us in street organizations, we can be a powerful force in the struggle to push back the New Jim Crow, the pigs fucking with and trying to lock us up every day, murdering Black and brown youth every fucking day.

The Stop Mass Incarceration Network has called for April 14 to be a nationwide day of shutting this system down, to take forward and heighten the struggle that kicked off in Ferguson and spread nationwide through the end of the year. An important component to that would be for those youth and O.G.’s and others in street organizations to make a formal call for nationwide cessation of hostilities with each other and to take up being part of the struggle against the New Jim Crow. So we are calling on those of you locked down to take this up. Write to us — and to everyone you know on the streets, as well — and give us your thinking on this. I know you have been watching and reading and keeping keenly abreast of the historic uprising that has been going down nationwide since Ferguson kicked it off in August. Many of us have been in the streets a lot, and one shortcoming has been getting the voices of the brothers and sisters behind the walls into the mix of this. A nationwide Call for a Cessation of Hostilities between street organizations could play a monumental role in taking this struggle to a higher level.

Send your letters right away to:

Prisoners Revolutionary Literature Fund
1321 N. Milwaukee #407
Chicago, IL 60622

Originally published in the March 2, 2015 edition of Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

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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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If Wilson Walks, America Must Halt!

Take to the Streets When the Ferguson Grand Jury Announces Its Decision

IF THE MURDERING PIG WALKS, AMERIKKKA MUST BE BROUGHT TO A HALT!

Carl Dix | November 17, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

The grand jury investigating the police murder of Michael Brown in Ferguson will announce its decision any day now. All indications are that it will let the killer cop, Darren Wilson, walk free. This would amount to the system giving its stamp of approval, once more, to police wantonly murdering Black youth. This would be an outrage—one that we must refuse to accept.

When the decision comes down, people need to pour into the streets immediately. If the authorities let this murdering pig walk, America must be brought to a halt. Major streets and highways should be blocked, and traffic should be unable to proceed on bridges and tunnels. Professional athletes should join the response by refusing to play. Musicians should cancel appearances. Students should walk out of school when they hear that another murdering pig has gone free. If the decision is announced at night, the next day should be a day of NO BUSINESS AS USUAL at schools. Buildings on campus should be taken over, classes should become teach-ins on police murder of Black people. All this and more should be done.

Governor Nixon of Missouri has declared a state of emergency and mobilized the National Guard. The emergency we must act to stop is the murder of our youth by police. Nixon’s actions underscore the need for us to step up and step out to say NO MORE to police murdering our youth.

If the grand jury does indict Wilson, we still need to act. If it’s anything less than murder, that would be the system telling us Black life doesn’t matter much. Even if they indict him for murder, justice hasn’t been won yet. Zimmerman was indicted for the murder of Trayvon, but he was allowed to walk free after a trial where the prosecutors acted like they had forgotten how to prosecute.

What we do when the grand jury decision comes down has to be more than a one-day thing. It must be part of bringing into being a movement of millions of people who are determined to STOP the murder of Black and Latino youth by police and racist vigilantes. The day after Thanksgiving should become “Black Lives Matter” day instead of a black Friday of getting a jump on Christmas shopping. Walmarts should be a focus of protests because a young Black man, John Crawford, was murdered by police in Walmart in Ohio, and a grand jury let those killer cops walk free.

And all this has to be aimed at delivering a message to one and all that THE KILLING OF BLACK YOUTH MUST STOP! People must come together and say this in a loud and united voice. We must mean it, and we must act accordingly immediately when the decision is announced and going forward from there till the murder of our youth by police and racist vigilantes is truly no more.

TAKE TO THE STREETS AS SOON AS THE GRAND JURY DECISION IS ANNOUNCED!

JUSTICE FOR MICHAEL BROWN, ERIC GARNER AND ALL THE VICTIMS OF KILLER COPS!

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Furthering the Movement to Stop Mass Incarceration – Major Panel at National Lawyers Guild Convention in Chicago

NLG SMIN panelists

Law for the People 2014: National Convention Major Panel

September 6, 2014 – 10:30AM – Noon

Furthering the Movement to Stop Mass Incarceration

Crowne Plaza Chicago Metro – Ballroom Salon B – C

2.2 million people are incarcerated in the United States, with an additional 5 million under the control of the criminal “in”justice system on probation and parole. Over 30,000 are in immigration detention centers, and Obama has deported a record 2 million immigrants. As Michelle Alexander points out in The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Color Blindness, courthouse doors are closed to systemic legal challenges to the racial inequality which has lead to more than 50% of the prison population being people of color.

This will not stop without a mass movement that demands an end to mass incarceration and the criminalization of Black and Latino youth. In this panel, former prisoners and others intimately familiar with the broader social consequences of mass incarceration will lead a discussion on how to turn around what is now two generations living under the injustice of mass incarceration. We will call for a Month of Resistance to Mass Incarceration in October 2014, initiated by Dr. Cornel West and Carl Dix, co-founders of the Stop Mass Incarceration Network.

NLG Hannibal Gregory

Presenters

Gregory Koger – Revolutionary communist activist with the Stop Mass Incarceration Network (SMIN). Gregory just returned from spending most of the last month on the front lines of the Ferguson rebellion in response to the police execution of Michael Brown. A member of the National Lawyers Guild, paralegal and former jailhouse lawyer, Gregory spent 11 years in prison, including over 6 years straight in solitary confinement, where he transformed himself from a gang member to a revolutionary. Since his release from prison has dedicated his life to ending the injustices of capitalism. He has spoken from cellblocks to universities about need to build a mass movement to end mass incarceration as part of the struggle for a liberated world for all humanity. Deeply inspired by the California prison hunger strike, Gregory organized a Chicago Forum on the California Prison Hunger Strike and Torture in U.S. Prisons in August 2011. During the 30,000-strong resumption of the hunger strike in July 2013, he spoke on NPR and other radio stations in support of the brothers and sisters on hunger strike, and he spent two weeks on hunger strike in solidarity while locked down in Cook County Jail serving a 300-day sentence for recording a political statement on an iPhone. He is currently the Plaintiff in a lawsuit seeking to overturn the decades-old policy of banning all newspapers in Cook County Jail (Koger v. Dart).

Mark Lewis Taylor – Maxwell M. Upson Professor of Theology and Culture at Princeton Theological Seminary. Writer, teacher, scholar and activist, Mark Lewis Taylor is a theologian in the vein of engaged thinkers who trace and analyze liberating spirit – the spirit of decolonizing political practices, wherein re-membered collective suffering of the earth and its oppressed peoples can become “specters,” material forces for multidimensional revolutionary change. In addition to being the author of several books, he is the founder of “Educators for Mumia Abu-Jamal,” a group of teachers from all levels of education, organizing since 1995 for a new trial on behalf of Abu-Jamal, a journalist  on Pennsylvania’s death row for 30 years. Activist movements achieved a victory in 2011, securing Abu-Jamal’s transfer from death row to general population. Nevertheless, the struggle to free him from prison continues, as many join in support of Desmond Tutu’s demand for his “immediate release.”

Brian Orozco – NLG member and practicing lawyer who has worked with prisoners and their families in California and Illinois and will speak to police/prison guard brutality, what the prisoners and their family members have been doing to protest their own conditions, and why massive resistance is needed to end the torture of solitary confinement and other atrocities. And why the NLG needs to be part of the Month of Resistance.

Hannibal Salim Ali – Stop Mass Incarceration Network. Hannibal attended the April 2014 SMIN strategy meeting in New York City with Dr. Cornel West and Carl Dix – co-founders of SMIN – and participated in the collective drafting of the Call For A Month Of Resistance To Mass Incarceration, Police Terror, Repression And The Criminalization Of A Generation. Hannibal spent many years in prison himself and is the uncle of Anjustine Hunter, who was murdered by police in Tennessee.

 

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