by Comrade Black
June 11 is coming up, the international day for solidarity with long term anarchist prisoners. I want to take a moment to encourage all of you to consider showing support for long term anarchist prisoners and earth defenders.
Prisoners need our support, it keeps them alive and strong. These are people who are in jail for their dedication to movements for social change, whether they broke into labs to free animals or were framed by law enforcement, their involvement in activism is why they are now sitting behind bars. If we believe we can create a better world on the ashes of this one, we need to step up and support those who have become captives for trying to put into action those very same beliefs. In the words of Resist and Exist “It’s important that we Support political prisoners. Because if we don’t One day you might be a political prisoner and there will be no movement to support you“
There are many ways you can show solidarity, but remember solidarity isn’t a word, it’s a relationship. that means solidarity is more than words, it requires action! But action can be as simple as writing a post card or letter to a prisoner, or sending them a book to read. Action can mean a lot of things depending on what you are willing and able to do. Here are some ideas of actions you can take to support prisoner:
Send them a book or magazine. When you are in jail there is one thing you have a lot of, time. Books and magazines can keep prisoners from boredum, keep them informed on what’s going on outside so they will be more up to date when they get out, and sometimes give a much needed escape. They also can help keep the brain sharp. Many prisoners actually have wishlists on amazon.com, so if you don’t know what to send them you can buy a book directly off their wishlist and soon as you pay for it it will be sent directly to them. Even better, instead of giving money to corporate amazon, many anarchist and radical publishers like AK Press or Ardent Press will send books to prisoners at a discounted price, some will even send books to anarchist prisoners for free. Similarly, many magazines like Earth First! Journal, Iconoclast, or The Fifth Estate will also give free subscriptions to prisoners. Do note that while in the USA you can easilly send books to prisoners, in some other countries such as the colonial nation state that calls itself Canada, you can not send books directly to prisoners. However in Kkklanda you can send photocopies of books 15 pages at a time.
Write a letter or post card – Prisoners have very limited connection to the outside world. Imagine going from having a large social network of friends to seeing the same 6 prisoners and 3 guards every day, and being locked in a cell for up to 14 hrs or more. This is the reality for many prisoners. Sending a letter can keep people sane, and brighten their day. If you don’t know what to say, make it easy, send them pictures of your cat, or even cut out photos of wild animals. Send them your favorite poem, lyrics to a song you are writing, or some article or short story you really love, a Sudoku or crossword puzzle. It doesn’t have to be hard. Many prisoners are happy to just hear about your day and the wonderful dog you played with river you swam in or tree you climbed. You can also tell them about activism going on so they will know stuff is still happening outside. It can be easy.
NOTE – a few things to avoid: don’t send creepy shit. I hate to have to say this but a female friend of mine who served time for black bloc actions had men send her letters hitting on her. that is NOT ok. On another note, don’t complain about shit. I know, life can suck some times, but no matter how shitty your drama is or how annoying dealing with the cops or government beirocracy, or school can be, it doesn’t compare to sitting in a cell and being strip searched and yelled at daily. remember the point is to cheer them up and build relationships, not to emotionally puke on them and use them for therapy. Lastly don’t tell them about illegal shit you have done or are thinking of doing, This might sound obvious, but it happens. Often if you tell them about something illegal, they can be punished. It si also just bad security culture.
Another way to send support is to donate money through their support committees. Often the support website will have a pay pal account to help make this easier. Money is important to help prisoners get many of the basics of life we take for granted, such as toiletries, pens paper and envelopes, phone cards for calling your loved ones, and especially decent food. This is particularly important for many animal lib prisoners who are Vegan, as the prison food is often quite inadequate for a healthy diet. Having a healthy diet is important to maintaining mental and physical health, which often suffers when one gets locked into a concrete box the size of your bathroom.
There are many other types of actions one can do, such as organizing a protest, a banner drop, graffiti in support of the prisoner, making posters, t-shirts, writing a song about their case, or setting up a punk show as a fundraiser for them. Be creative, think about what would mean a lot to you if you were in prison? For many movement prisoners, continuing the work they care about while they are jailed can also be one of the most effective forms of solidarity
Also remember these people will be in jail long after June 11. While June 11 is a good day to start, especially if you have never done support work before; I do hope you will continue to support our captives long after. Prisoners also need support to continue when they are released, this can happen in the way of helping them find work or other income, places to live and community supports such as counseling if they need it. It can also mean just being there if they need someone to have lunch with; as well as not expecting them to want to hang out. It can be a hard transition from living in a box to living in a society of boxes, and often people need to slowly move back into socializing.
I hope this will encourage you to get involved, it is easy to make a difference. You can find lists of prisoners, anarchists, ecoprisoners, animal liberationists, and indigenous land defenders on sites such as ecoprisoners. There is also groups like the Anarchist Black Cross which are dedicated to doing prisoner support for movement prisoners. You may want to check if there is an ABC chapter in your city and get in touch.
Your support is needed. Your support can make a difference