Over the past two years, despite President Joe Biden’s campaign promises to bring fairness to the immigration system, the current administration has quadrupled the number of people enrolled in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) so-called “alternatives to detention” (ATD) surveillance program, and has doubled the number of people held in immigration jails. There is no acceptable justification for this rapidly growing surveillance dragnet. As advocates working toward the abolition of immigration detention, we are outraged that the Biden administration is increasingly turning immigrants’ homes and communities into an extension of prison cells. Our vision must extend beyond abolishing immigration jails themselves, as they are only one part of a larger racist, exclusionary system that targets and harms our communities.
Criminal Justice and Prisons
The founder of a U.S.-based website that earlier published the same un-redacted documents that WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange was later indicted for has invited the U.S. Department of Justice to make him a co-defendant with Assange. “Cryptome published the decrypted unredacted State Department Cables on September 1, 2011 prior to publication of the cables by WikiLeaks,” John Young wrote in a Justice Department submission form, which Young posted on Twitter on Tuesday. “No US official has contacted me about publishing the unredacted cables since cryptome published them,” he wrote. “I respectfully request that the Department of Justice add me as a co-defendant in the prosecution of Mr. Assange under the Espionage Act.”
Brazil’s left-wing President-elect Lula da Silva has called for journalist Julian Assange to be freed from his “unjust imprisonment.” Assange, the founder of whistle-blowing journalism publication WikiLeaks, has languished since 2019 in a maximum-security British prison, where he has suffered from prolonged torture that could threaten his life, according to the top United Nations expert. The United Kingdom is preparing to extradite the Australian journalist to the United States, where he is facing up to 175 years in prison on politically motivated charges based in part on illegal CIA spying and threats. On November 28, Lula met with Assange’s colleagues from WikiLeaks.
A political prisoner is a person targeted or imprisoned because of their political actions, affiliations and/or beliefs. A political prisoner is also an individual, who while incarcerated, transforms themselves from a social prisoner by gaining clarity, embracing and maintaining political struggle. Thirty-seven-year-old Kevin “KJ” Johnson is scheduled to be executed by the State of Missouri on November 29th; most would not view him as a “political prisoner.” However, given the poverty, neglect, suffering and abuse that comes with being a captive in domestic colonies and urban enclaves within a capitalist and imperialist state, from the onset Kevin was undoubtedly a victim of US politics and policing. On July 5, 2005, 19-year-old Kevin “KJ” Johnson witnessed his 12- year-old brother, “Bam Bam” collapse while police conducted a search of their grandmother’s home.
The five major media outlets that collaborated with WikiLeaks in 2010 to publish explosive stories based on confidential diplomatic cables from the U.S. State Department sent a letter Monday calling on the Biden administration to drop all charges against Julian Assange, who has been languishing in a high-security London prison for more than three years in connection with his publication of classified documents. "Twelve years after the publication of 'Cablegate,' it is time for the U.S. government to end its prosecution of Julian Assange for publishing secrets," reads the letter signed by the editors and publishers of The New York Times, The Guardian, Le Monde, Der Spiegel, and El País. "Publishing is not a crime."
I apologize for complaining every year when the U.S. president, no matter who it is, pardons two turkeys just before Thanksgiving. I don’t think it’s funny or cute or festive. I think it’s an insult to every person in America who actually deserves a pardon. It’s bad enough for people like me, (or Jeffrey Sterling, Thomas Drake, or any other national security whistleblower) who have done their time, have applied for pardons from multiple presidents, and have been ignored. Imagine what it must be like for people who are innocent of the crimes for which they were convicted. What must go through Leonard Pelletier’s mind every year at the end of November, for example? The Thanksgiving tradition began in 1863, when Abraham Lincoln pardoned a turkey, an act that wasn’t even reported in the press until 1865.
We at SPARC [Subaltern Peoples Abolitionist Revolutionary Collective] have been organizing in PA prisons for years. We’ve been building our movement with focus on addressing the struggles going on right now. It’s clear from the failure to return to pre-COVID normal procuedure that the administration intends to keep us under elevated restrictions indefinitely. Not only that, but there are many problems with the Pennsylvania injustice system that are not being remedied by politicians and lawyers. We intend to do our part. Prisons are modern day slave plantations which only make profits for our exploiters if we do work. The more of us who refuse to labor for the slave master, the less the system can function. We have the power to shut it down and change conditions for the better.
The World Federation of Democratic Youth (WFDY) and its federating progressive youth groups across the world have intensified their campaign for the immediate release of Aleksander Kononovich and his brother Mikhail Kononovich, communist youths imprisoned by Ukrainian authorities. Both the Kononovich brothers belong to the leadership of the Leninist Communist Youth Union of Ukraine (LKSMU), a member organization of the WFDY. The WFDY leadership also demanded an end to all deadly, imperialist wars raging across the world. November 21 marked 260 days since the arrest and imprisonment of the Kononovich brothers by the Security Services of Ukraine (SBU). Since November 11, WFDY and its federating youth groups worldwide have organized a week-long campaign and held protest demonstrations in front of Ukrainian embassies in various countries demanding the release of the Kononovich brothers.
At the time of writing this interview, Alex Saab has already been incarcerated for 885 days in a prison in Florida, United States, according to leaderboards laid out on the social media of the people campaigning for his release. Saab is being held there until the US District Court for the Southern District of Florida determines whether or not the United States accepts his diplomatic status; their acceptance would obligate them to release Saab, says his legal defense team. Indhriana Parada, a lawyer who is part of Alex Saab’s legal team, spoke to Últimas Noticias about his case, where she discussed a declassified document that records Mike Pompeo, US Secretary of State for Donald Trump, admitting to Alex Saab’s diplomatic status.
After 36 years of incarceration, political prisoner Mutulu Shakur was granted parole after having been denied on nine occasions. Invariably media accounts mention that he is the step-father of the late rapper and actor Tupac Shakur while saying little about his own history. Any of the elder Shakur’s accomplishments are given short shrift in favor of an emphasis on pop culture celebrity. In 1986 Shakur was arrested for his role in the 1981 robbery of a Brink’s armored car which resulted in the deaths of three people. He managed to avoid capture for five years but was tried and in 1988 convicted under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) statute and sentenced to 60 years in prison. Shakur is being released so that he can die outside of prison walls.
Washington D.C. - Yesterday, supporters asking for the release of American Indian Movement activist Leonard Peltier arrived in Washington and hosted a march and rally at the Lincoln Memorial. The American Indian Movement’s Grand Governing Council (AIMGGC) began the 1,100-mile Leonard Peltier’s Walk to Justice on Sept. 1. The group completed their final mile on Sunday from the Washington Monument to the Lincoln Memorial with nearly 2,000 supporters. “We just walked for 1,103 miles for our elder Leonard Peltier,” walk organizer Rachel Thunder said at Sunday’s rally. “We just marched 1,103 miles for our people, for justice for our people. When Leonard is free, we are all free.” Peltier was convicted in 1977 for aiding and abetting the murder of two Federal Bureau of Investigation agents on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in June 1975.
Five activists are appearing in Southwark Crown Court from today onwards for a trial set to last between 5 and 7 days, charged with ‘conspiracy to commit criminal damage’ after taking action against Elbit’s headquarters at 77 Kingsway, Holborn, London. The five activists arrived by car, and sprayed the premises in red paint from buckets and repurposed fire exinguishers. The activists were joined by dozens of protestors, who brought banners bearing ‘Shut Elbit Down’ and ‘Stop Arming Israel’. The five were arrested alongside a journalist, and have waited over two years on bail before the trial commences. Elbit, whose UK operations include the manufacture of munitions, surveillance equipment, military hardware and drone technologies for Israel’s ‘defence’ forces, had their London headquarters met with consistent direct action from Palestine Action for over a year and a half, before finally abandoning the office around 6 months ago.
As children in the US learn in schools, slavery was abolished over 150 years ago during the nation’s Civil War in 1863. And yet, on the November 8 2022 midterm elections, five states, Oregon, Tennessee, Vermont, Louisiana, and Alabama, voted on ballot measures that would end slavery in those states. How is the US still be contending with slavery in 2022? The 13th Amendment to the US Constitution, ratified in 1865, abolished slavery. However, it contained a powerful exception—slavery would be legal as punishment for a crime. As a result, hundreds of thousands of prison workers are held in involuntary servitude, often unpaid and always below minimum wage. Tennessee, Vermont, and Alabama voted yes on ballot measures that would end all exceptions to involuntary, forced, and unpaid labor within prisons within their respective state constitutions.
This excerpt from Cassandra’s forthcoming project, Climate Opium: How we are overdosing on false solutions to climate change, is dedicated to the 60,000 political prisoners in Egypt. “Unless all these prisoners are immediately freed, the United Nations must cancel the climate summit in Sharm el-Sheikh planned for November 2022. Without freedom from dictatorships, colonialism and all injustices, there is no climate justice! NO greenwashing Sisi’s police state!” –Cassandra #FreeThemAll #FreeAlaa #nuclearcolonialism #NoREDD In the name of saving Nature and the climate, the scope of carbon colonialism i has become mind-bogglingly vast. Now, fortress conservation combined with carbon offsets is serving as an excuse to grab half the planet.
Mumia Abu-Jamal’s conviction turned importantly on unreliable and conflicting testimony. It was significant that in taking up the case, elite news media went along for the ride, and sometimes drove the car—encouraging acceptance, for instance, of the fact that, though the guard assigned to Mumia immediately after his arrest reported “the negro male made no statements,” more to be believed was the other officer who subsequently came forward to say that, actually, from his hospital bed, Mumia had declared, “I shot the motherfucker and I hope he dies.” Neither witness recantations or shifting accounts or evidence of jury-purging in Mumia’s case, nor the ever-expanding evidence of the terrible harms and injustices of the US prison system generally, seem to be enough to shake some media from their investment in the narrative of the “convicted cop killer,” and the need to keep him not just behind bars, but also to keep him and people “similar to” him quiet, to keep their voices and their lives out of public conversation and consideration.