Monthly Archives: March 2012

Occupy the Justice Department – April 24th

“On April 24, 2012, Mumia’s 58th birthday, we will gather at the Department of Justice (DOJ) in Washington, DC. A large-scale, vibrant and colorful rally will amplify our formal request that Eric Holder immediately meet with a delegation to discuss police corruption and civil rights violations in Mumia’s case and in the cases of hundreds of other defendants in Philadelphia. Some demonstrators will engage in acts of civil disobedience to draw greater attention to these injustices.”

Occupy4Prisoners endorses this action, and will be planning a solidarity action in the Bay Area – will update this site with more information soon.

“As one of the organizers of National Occupy Day in Support of Prisoners and Occupy San Quentin, we are very excited to support Occupy the Justice Department and will send people from California to attend. We encourage all who know about this important effort to be there on April 24, 2012, to stand side-by-side with Occupiers and others who are no longer willing to accept injustice that we, the citizens of this country, suffer through the loss of family members and communities left decimated by policies of mass incarceration.”
                                                                  –Barbara Becnel
                                                                    Founder of Stanley Tookie Williams Legacy Network


Action Announcements – TODAY and TOMORROW

1) TONIGHT! (TUESDAY) Community Members Call for Restored Rights to People with Felony Convictions

Organizations Speak at Oakland City Council in Support of Resolutions to Support Prisoner Reentry
Press Contact:  Isaac Ontiveros, Californians United for a Responsible Budget
Ph. 510 444 0484
What: Oakland City Council MeetingWhen: Tuesday, March 20 2012, 6:30pm
Where: Oakland City Hall, 1 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza
Oakland—The Oakland City Council will hear three timely resolutions to support state legislation that would remove barriers to reentry for people with felony convictions. The measures, which would end the lifetime ban on public benefits for people with prior drug-related felony convictions and expand “ban the box” policies to city and county employment across California, come as more focus is put in local community responses to Governor Brown’s prison realignment plan.
“Preventing parents from receiving basic needs puts our state’s poorest children in harm’s way and burdens local communities that are challenged to find strategies to support successful reentry for an increasing number of low-income parents,” said Jessica Bartholow with the Western Center on Law and Poverty, a leading anti-poverty organization working to pass this legislation. Currently, any Californian who has a prior drug related felony conviction is denied from accessing CalWORKs and CalFresh, public programs that grant access to affordable food, education, and child-care.

“It is crucial that people most vulnerable in our communities, especially people with felony convictions, have access to food, jobs, education and other important services when coming home from prison or jail,” notes Manuel La Fontaine, organizer for All of Us or None’s Oakland Chapter. La Fontaine continues, “If I didn’t have a support system when coming home from prison, I would have fallen through the cracks. I hope the City of Oakland supports these important resolutions.” Oakland has already adopted a city-level “ban the box”, a fair hiring policy that removes discriminatory questions about conviction history from an initial job application. This legislation would extend “ban the box” measures to all California cities and counties.
Alameda County is one of four counties to receive a passing grade on a recently updated Realignment Report Card issued by Californians United for a Responsible Budget (CURB), a statewide coalition of over 40 member organizations. “We hope that Alameda County and the City of Oakland will continue to step out as a model county in response to realignment. We need them to show more counties how to support and develop policies that support people with felony convictions instead of locking them up and denying them access to jobs and basic programs and services,” said Emily Harris, Statewide Coordinator for CURB.
Representatives from Californians United for a Responsible Budget, Critical Resistance, Legal Services for Prisoners with Children, All of Us None, California Partnership, Alameda County Community Food Bank, Western Center on Law and Poverty, Berkeley Needle Exchange Emergency Distribution, and the California Coalition for Women Prisoners will be speaking during the public comment section of Tuesday’s meeting.

CURB’s Report Card is available at:

Tonight’s City Council will include:

Item #13 AB 828: CalFRESH (Swanson):
Item #14 SB 1060: CalWORKS (Hancock):
Item #16 AB 1831: Hiring Practices (Dickenson/Swanson):  
2)TOMORROW (WEDNESDAY) JUSTICE FOR TRAYVON MARTIN – A Million Hoodies March for Trayvon Martin 

JOIN US IN OAKLAND / SF – Throw on your hoodies and come gather in Bradley Manning Plaza to show your support for justice for Trayvon Martin! Bring items to create an altar for Trayvon at the UN.

**WEDNESDAY, March 21st is the UN International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

We’re going to be gathering in Bradley Manning Plaza at 5:30 PM to rally and march to the United Nations Association at 6 PM!

Gather in Oakland at 14th & Broadway BART to ride together to Embarcadero: 4:30P, 5P and 5:30P. Please know we’d stay in Oakland but the march to the UN feels necessary.

Rally and March

New audio/video and report from Occupy San Quentin

AUDIO excerpts:

VIDEO excerpt, Daniel Hazen:

VIDEO excerpt, Sara Shourd, Shane Bauer, Josh Fattal: Shane, Josh, and Sarah:

Free Speech Radio News:


The Feb. 20 Occupy Day for Prisoners marked the historic merging of the Occupy movement with prison abolition organizations working in the trenches for decades. We believe it was crucial to join these forces, to further consciousness among Occupy activists about the other 1%, the 2.5 million incarcerated people. As the Occupy movement has brought economic injustice to the forefront of the political conversation, we envision Occupy for Prisoners expanding awareness of the racialized caste system of mass incarceration as both a foundational element and an outcome of centuries-old US racism and economic injustice.

Although human rights have never been consistently respected in American prisons, in the last few decades of explosive mass incarceration there has been a drastic decline in humane treatment. Activists in the Bay Area chose to demonstrate at San Quentin, which houses California’s Death Row and is representative of inhumane conditions nationwide. Imprisoned people are now more clearly included amongst Occupy zones – places that need to be reclaimed by a humanitarian and liberatory consciousness.

In the lead-up to the event formerly incarcerated people, led by All of Us or None, called for the day to be peaceful and non-violent, in order to protect formerly incarcerated people and families of those currently imprisoned attending. In response Occupy Oakland Non-Violent Caucus ran trainings in peaceful non-violent presence early on Feb. 20, prior to loading people on buses from downtown Oakland. During the rally Occupy For Prisoners activists, including clergy, formed a human buffer between protestors and heavily-armed San Quentin snipers and guards. In addition, the Connection Action Project set up a sacred prayer/empathy circle near the prison gate to offer emotional support. The day was entirely peaceful, with many opportunities for those most affected by the prison industrial complex to speak their truth, as well as for those relatively less impacted to act in solidarity.

The crowd that day, combining formerly incarcerated people, loved ones of those currently inside, Occupy activists and prison abolitionists, was family-friendly and included children and elders. Crowd estimates averaged around 800, and the colorful banners, artwork, and passionate speakers created a liberated zone even in the “valley of the shadow of death” that is San Quentin. Having an opening invocation by First Nation activist Lenny Foster and drumming by youth firmly established the peaceful and sacred intent of the gathering – to show that with the consciousness of unity and liberation we have the power to make great changes. This unity was also reflected in the words chanted as Occupy Oakland arrived – “Inside, outside, we’re all on the same side.”

The program provided a rarely seen public space for amplifying the voices of incarcerated people. Throughout the day, words from well-known political and politicized prisoners like Mumia Abu-Jamal, Leonard Peltier, Kevin Cooper, the Pelican Bay hunger strikers, and Yassin Aref in addition to less well-known voices from inside the walls filled the air. devorah major, former San Francisco poet laureate, shared a powerful spoken word piece, and Jabari Shaw performed a rap on the prison system as modern day slavery . Linda Evans and Dorsey Nunn from All of Us or None and Barbara Bechnel from the STW Legacy Network were the emcees, and most of the speakers were formerly incarcerated people and their families.

The topics covered a wide range of struggles around human rights for imprisoned people: the abolishment of unjust sentences and inhumane conditions (especially solitary confinement), solidarity with hunger strikers, the needs of women in prison, freeing political prisoners, ending the repression of activists, and spending our taxes on the needs of our communities rather than prisons.

Mumia Abu-Jamal and Michelle Alexander among many others have called for a massive social justice movement to end mass incarceration in the US, and Occupy for Prisoners will continue to respond to those calls by organizing, politicizing, identifying the issues and building solidarity with all imprisoned, oppressed people. We will provide an energetic presence of movement-building outside the walls to reflect and support the dynamic and visionary organizing already occurring within the walls. The success of the national day of protest on Feb. 20 lends a militant optimism to the moment – LA LUCHA CONTINUA!

(For more about the day, see Wanda Sabir’s detailed article – with pictures – at

Thank You from Kevin Cooper

(This is the message that Kevin Cooper prepared for the March 1st benefit for Occupy4Prisoners)

This is Kevin Cooper, and I’m calling you to say something to each and everyone of you who is fighting for our collective human rights.

Especially to those of you who on February 20th came to this modern day plantation called San Quentin prison to show your support for, and solidarity with people like me.

That something I want to say is “Thank You”!

What you have shown, and continue to show is the truth, there is no power greater than the power of the people!

The late Malcolm X once stated that “Power in defense of freedom is greater than power on behalf of tyranny and oppression!”

I wholeheartedly agree.

Peace to you, and thank you again.

In Struggle & Solidarity,

From Death Row at San Quentin Plantation,

I’m Kevin Cooper

Join Occupy4Prisoners at Occupy the Capitol

Occupy4Prisoners will be taking our Truth Mob and banners to the Occupy the Capitol action taking place TOMORROW – Monday, March 5th. Join us! Education not Incarceration!

Postcard: Occupy the Capitol




M5 Action


The plan for Monday is that when our march and rally ends at 12:30 pm,
thousands of us will remain here at the Capitol. Politicians and the
state assembly have failed to stand with us, the 99%. So many of us
will go inside the Capitol Building for a People’s Assembly to
ourselves decide how to make the 1% refund education, jobs, essential
services, and a better future.

Here is the schedule:
10 am – March begins at Southside Park
11 am – Student association sponsored Rally to Fund Our Future
1 pm – People’s Assembly Inside the Capitol Building
4:30 pm – Nonviolent Direct Action Training inside the Capitol Building
5:30 pm – Afterwork rally in solidarity with Occupy the Capitol

Occupy Education and Refund California adopted the following
nonviolence statement for the action that we ask everyone who comes to

“The Occupy the Capitol action will be a mass nonviolent action.
Those involved in its organization will not engage in acts of property
damage either inside or outside the capitol and do not condone such
acts. Decisions about tactics will be made democratically.”

If you don’t see your departure location listed here, and you are a
student or employee at an educational institution, contact your
student government to see if there is a bus leaving your school for
March 5.

If you can’t find a ride on a bus from your school, want help
organizing a carpool, or have other questions about getting to
Sacramento on March 5, contact us at

Here is updated bus departure information:

*UC Santa Cruz: UCSC East Remote Parking Lot, 6am, March 5
*UC Davis: ARC Parking Lot, 8am or 9am, March 5
*City College of San Francisco: 50 Phelan Avenue (Upper Parking Lot,
Near Riordan High School 7:30am
*SF Civic Center: 7:45am
*Fresno State University: Student Recreation Center at Woodrow and
Shaw Ave, 6am, March 5
*Berkeley: Bancroft & Telegraph, 7:30am, March 5
*UCR: University Avenue adjacent to Parking Lot 24, 12:30am, March 5
*UCM: Kolligian Library Traffic Loop, 7:30am, March 5
Thousands of students, parents, teachers, and workers will flood into Sacramento on
Monday, March 5th. How long we stay will be up to you.

Join us to demand that Wall St. and the 1% pay to refund education, jobs, essential services, and a better future!

10 am: Mass March Beginning at Southside Park at 6th and T Streets

11 am: Rally at the Capitol Building

12:30 pm: Lunch at the Capitol Building

3:30 pm: General Assembly and Nonviolent Direct Action Training to Occupy the Capitol!

5:30 pm: Rally on North Steps in Solidarity with Occupy the Capitol

For a seat on the bus, more information, or just to let us know you’ll be there, visit: or

Call 510.549.3863 or email with questions about scheduling buses


Links: Postcard
Sign up for the March 5, 2012, action here.

Report on March 1st Benefit

From Organizer Rachel Victoria:

What a night!  A benefit fundraiser for Occupy4Prisoners brought in a crowd of between 300-350 people. In addition to the screening of newly released documentary, Broken On All Sides, the program consisted of music, an introduction by the Truth Mob, and a line up of eloquent speakers, including Barbara Becnel, Elaine Brown, and Angela Davis.   Statements from incarcerated individuals, giving voice to those behind walls,  included a call-in from from Kevin Cooper from San Quentin’s death row. it was an amazingly successful night that exceeded our expectations, and left me breathless with hope and amazement.

Heartfelt gratitude is extended to Allen Michaan.   His longstanding generosity and support of the movement is legendary.  He made this event possible.

A huge thank you to everyone who attended last night’s event and/or supported it in any way.  Special thanks to Crystal and  Barbara for their efforts to help create the program, and to Denise for bringing the Message Wall and organizing the Truth Mob.  And thanks to each of the musicians,  speakers, readers, assistants, and other individuals who contributed to the program, publicity,  and/or logistics.

For those who could not be there, the program portion of the event is available on ustream at this link:
The film itself was a serous eye opener about the Prison Industrial Complex, and it got rave reviews.  Here’s one,  posted on twitter,  by OakFoSho:
What an EPIC documentary. Tears in my eyes. Everyone see “Broken on all Sides.” Wow. #Occupy4Prisoners #OO #OWS 
One of the highlights of the evening was  an stunning vocal performance

by Elaine Brown after the screening. Tributes to the Jackson brothers, one each to George and Jonathan,  were moving and powerful.
 Elaine ended the program with “We Shall Overcome.”
The glow of this night will will linger for some time.  I had previewed the film twice before on a small screen.  But seeing it in a theater with over 300 clapping, cheering activists  was a completely different experience!  Scenes such as an Occupy Philadelphia march with a speaker calling “We Need a Movement! “ or “Let us believe that if Harriet Tubman could organize slaves without an ipad, email, cell phones… that surely we can organize people across the United States of America now!”  were moments not to be forgotten.
We do have a Movement,  and we are organizing.  That is clear.
Truly blessed and honored to do this, in solidarity with each of you.