Monthly Archives: January 2012

What’s new

Support is growing for the National Occupy Day in Support of Prisoners and Occupy San Quentin!

We’ve added flyers for Occupy San Quentin, and more endorsers for Feb 20 – see the links above.

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Facebook: Occupy4Prisoners (https://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Occupy4Prisoners/234095196660637)

Twitter: @Occupy4Prisoner

We need YOU! Are you planning an action? Let us know and we will list, promote and support! Email occupy4prisoners [at] gmail [dot] com!

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Proposal to Occupy Oakland General Assembly

This  proposal that was passed at the Occupy Oakland General Assembly, on Monday, January 9th

PROPOSAL

Summary

We are calling for February 20th, 2012 to be a “National Occupy Day in Support of Prisoners.”

In the Bay Area we will “Occupy San Quentin,” to stand in solidarity with the people confined within its walls and to demand the end of the incarceration as a means of containing those dispossessed by unjust social policies.

Reasons

Prisons have become a central institution in American society, integral to our politics, economy and our culture.

Between 1976 and 2000, the United States built on average a new prison each week and the number of imprisoned Americans increased tenfold.

Prison has made the threat of torture part of everyday life for millions of individuals in the United States, especially the 7.3 million people—who are disproportionately people of color—currently incarcerated or under correctional supervision.

Imprisonment itself is a form of torture. The typical American prison, juvenile hall and detainment camp is designed to maximize degradation, brutalization, and dehumanization.

Mass incarceration is the new Jim Crow. Between 1970 and 1995, the incarceration of African Americans increased 7 times. Currently African Americans make up 12 % of the population in the U.S. but 53% of the nation’s prison population. There are more African Americans under correctional control today—in prison or jail, on probation or parole—than were enslaved in 1850, a decade before the Civil War began.

The prison system is the most visible example of policies of punitive containment of the most marginalized and oppressed in our society. Prior to incarceration, 2/3 of all prisoners lived in conditions of economic hardship. While the perpetrators of white-collar crime largely go free.

In addition, the Center for Economic and Policy Research estimated that in 2008 alone there was a loss in economic input associated with people released from prison equal to $57 billion to $65 billion.

We call on Occupies across the country to support:

1.  Abolishing unjust sentences, such as the Death Penalty, Life Without the Possibility of Parole, Three Strikes, Juvenile Life Without Parole, and the practice of trying children as adults.

2.  Standing in solidarity with movements initiated by prisoners and taking action to support prisoner demands, including the Georgia Prison Strike and the Pelican Bay/California Prisoners Hunger Strikes.

3.  Freeing political prisoners, such as Mumia Abu-Jamal, Leonard Peltier, Lynne Stewart, Bradley Manning and Romaine “Chip” Fitzgerald, a Black Panther Party member incarcerated since 1969.

4. Demanding an end to the repression of activists, specifically the targeting of African Americans and those with histories of incarceration, such as Khali in Occupy Oakland who could now face a life sentence, on trumped-up charges, and many others being falsely charged after only exercising their First Amendment rights.

5. Demanding an end to the brutality of the current system, including the torture of those who have lived for many years in Secured Housing Units (SHUs) or in solitary confinement.

6. Demanding that our tax money spent on isolating, harming and killing prisoners, instead be invested in improving the quality of life for all and be spent on education, housing, health care, mental health care and other human services which contribute to the public good.

Bay Area

On February 20th, 2012 we will organize in front of San Quentin, where male death-row prisoners are housed, where Stanley Tookie Williams was immorally executed by the State of California in 2005, and where Kevin Cooper, an innocent man on death row, is currently imprisoned.

At this demonstration, through prisoners’ writings and other artistic and political expressions, we will express the voices of the people who have been inside the walls. The organizers of this action will reach out to the community for support and participation. We will contact social service organizations, faith institutions, labor organizations, schools, prisoners, former prisoners and their family members.

National and International Outreach

We will reach out to Occupies across the country to have similar demonstrations outside of prisons, jails, juvenile halls and detainment facilities or other actions as such groups deem appropriate.  We will also reach out to Occupies outside of the United States and will seek to attract international attention and support.

We have chosen Monday, February 20, 2012 at San Quentin, because it is a non-weekend day.  Presidents’ Day avoids the weekend conflict with prisoners’ visitation, which would likely be shut down if we held a demonstration over the weekend.


Occupy Death Row, by Kevin Cooper

It seems that many people are glad, and in some cases downright happy, that the Occupy movements have taken place across this country. Many people around the world are asking, “What took so long?” All of them want it to grow, and to include all of the people who are being affected by the one percent and their policies.

One cannot live on this planet and not know the bed capitalism lays here within this country. The roots from the tree of greed have spread to damn near every part of this world. They have had an impact, directly or indirectly, on every person in this world, to one degree or another.

Capitalism, and the capitalists who run and control it, need very important ingredients to make it work. They need “The Haves” and “The Have Nots!”

These days, as it once was when this country was first formed, it is very easy to tell the difference between the two. Some of the people, who for most of their lives considered themselves the “Haves,” are finding out that they were living a lie. That now, they are part of the “Have Nots.” This reality is causing them, or at least some of them, to become part of this Occupy movement, and understandably so.

I have never considered myself to be a “Have”, nor has this country ever treated me as a “Have!” No man or woman on death row in this state, or any other state, is a “Have.” We are also the “Have Nots.” We are the bottom one percent, who damn near everyone shits on. We are scapegoated, ignored, humiliated, disowned, and ritually tortured and murdered by, and at the hands of, the top one percent, and some of the 99 percent as well!

Those people who are truly the “Haves” within this country have not made it to any death row. For the most part, they never have and they never will. America has a deep seeded philosophy in which it only allows for the execution of its poorest people. These seeds have taken root and have grown in such a way that no person who this system sees as a “Have Not” is safe from its death machine. Whether they are within this building, or on a BART platform.

It seems that the one percent are immune from the sentence of death, even when their policies in war, or peace, have killed untold numbers of people around the world. The bottom one percent is not immune, and seems to be used as part of entertainment, from the media to the politicians.

While these truths must be known to the 99 percent who are now saying that they are the “Have Nots,” these truths are not acknowledged by the majority of them. We who are the bottom one percent, the historical “Have Nots,” the ones who are paraded before the public and humiliated, strapped to a gurney, tortured and murdered by the powers that be; we ask, “Why aren’t we included in this Occupy movement?”

While people are, and should be, occupying Wall Street and every other money street in the country, as well as occupying every city that they can, I ain’t hearing no one say, “Occupy death row!”

Nonetheless, I have been doing so since 1985. And death row itself has been occupying this country since even before this land became a country. Executions, and the various ways that poor people, have been executed throughout the years proves that executions are part of this country’s DNA.

So, I now respectfully ask this to those of you who are part of this occupy movement: Will you please not make the same mistake that was made by previous movements seeking civil, or any other type of rights? That mistake was not to include the ending of capital punishment as part of the demands.

Our fight, and our plight from here on death row is just as important to us, as your fight and your plight is to you! We understand this and respect this. All we ask, and all we have the right to ask, is that you not leave us behind, and/or out of the conversation. Any house, even a house full of “Have Nots,” divided upon itself cannot, and will not stand. We must unite!

In Struggle and Solidarity

From Death Row at San Quentin Prison,

Kevin Cooper

for more information about Kevin Cooper: www.freekevincooper.org

for more information about the plans for the National Occupy Day in Support of Prisoners,

contact occupy4prisoners@gmail.com