SB217’s Blind Spot: Colorado’s Police Should Return to Unencrypted Scanners

The murder of George Floyd at the hands of four Minneapolis police officers inspired one of the most widespread and heroic uprisings in modern United States history. Two weeks of rioting and protest have opened a dialogue about the nature of police and spurred more efforts at reform, or in some cases outright abolition, than years of voting and token civilian oversight efforts ever could have. This is a reckoning years in the making – rampant police brutality has persisted nationwide for decades and between the police unions making any accountability or policy change all but impossible, a “Thin Blue Line” “warrior” culture that has deliberately placed cops above the citizenry, and both peaceful protest and representative democracy failing to rectify the problem, it was only a matter of time before things finally exploded. The brutal, indiscriminate response from police all across the country exposed them as an occupying force with contempt for the populations they purportedly serve rather than a profession existing for conflict resolution; an extortion racket for the wealthy existing to crush dissent and keep systems and institutions failing the vast majority of people afloat to maintain revenue streams.

Unsurprisingly, Colorado law enforcement was in rare form. With a long history of protest suppression, the response to initial demonstrations in downtown Denver as well as Colorado Springs was a strategy of overwhelming force and intimidation. Mirroring the conflicts that played out in most major American cities, it was obvious that the police were starting the riots, but the segment of demonstrators willing to fight back – rightfully fed up with police overreach and invulnerability – was significantly higher than usual. A police murder and the subsequent efforts to crush any outcry should always be seen as a breach of the social contract, and a critical mass of people justifiably and righteously made that breach a two-way street by opening up a conflict with the police that raged for days and still shows very little sign of stopping.

Local efforts to diffuse the tension have ranged from nefarious, with a seemingly AstroTurf “activist” organization emerging overnight in Denver that focused immediately on tone policing, sowing division with a lack of respect for a diversity of tactics, and staging photo-ops for local politicians and the police department, to suspicious – there’s been speculation that the Denver Police stood down not just to deescalate, but because the department was running out of crowd control weapon munitions and had exhausted their manpower. It’s also likely the mayor’s office pulled them back after realizing the DPD handled everything terribly and was primarily responsible for escalating the situation. An officer was fired for posting himself and two other police officers in riot gear and captioning it “Let’s Start a Riot” on Instagram.

Token symbolic measures, like the painting of Black Lives Matter in front of the capitol building and some changing of street signs, were taken this week. Quite quickly, a flurry of activity at the statehouse to get some legislation on the books and hopefully quell anger was engaged, giving Coloradans SB217, a reform bill that’s already passed in the House and will be voted on imminently in the Senate. State Republicans and law enforcement groups (naturally) object to many of the proposals and will likely neuter key provisions in an already relatively toothless bill that seems, on its face, full of “reforms” that are nebulously enforceable.

Continue reading →

Official Notice Regarding the End of the Unexplained and Unannounced Indefinite Hiatus

Just as in the Aughts, when people still read blogs, in the 90s, people subscribed to magazines. These were the decades of my childhood, reading and news consumption was different then. You paid $29.99 a year for several Ivy League dicks to repackage a Pentagon press release so you could learn about “The Crisis in Somalia,” it sat on a coffee table as a kind of milquetoast status symbol, and then, sometime around April, the charge would fuck up your checkbook balancing because you forgot about it and like a New Year’s Resolution during a hangover, you’d decide to pick it back up before remembering Joel Stein as a kind of a blowhard failson and continuing the coffee table ritual once again.

This phenomenon for the reader is remarkably similar to what vain, unpaid indie blogger holdouts experience with their yearly WordPress webhosting bill a full two decades after blogs stopped being relevant reading, as the discourse went bite-sized, or devoured through earbuds by a half-asleep light rail commuter. I live, still, a year later, and for some reason still yearn to broadcast my dropout garbage person thoughts into the ether. My relationship with blogging, characterized as a sort of half-talk-radio-half-newspaper-column informal article writing, is not unlike my stormy betrothal to fiction writing. You sit on ideas, procrastinate, allow yourself to atrophy, and then ultimately decide getting back to your marital home half shitfaced is probably going to get you in more trouble than disappearing onto a westbound Greyhound bus route for a week or two until somebody files a missing person’s report.

Admittedly, my laziness is a blessing here. I lost my debit card in an ATM inside of an Arby’s twice last year, and waited until the final hours of my renewal period to decide to probably start writing again. An election year, traditionally, is my time to shine. Around the start of 2020, I figured I’d throw on the jaded black hoodie of my vandal youth and don my “I’m only in it for the horse race” hat and prepare to clown the sinister and false earnestness of the Democratic Party’s primary process while also couching hope that the age of illiterate, frothing-mad fascism of Republican power is waning. This spurt of productivity didn’t materialize, thankfully, or I’d be subjected to an embarrassing internal dialogue as I reviewed those posts, ridiculing my fleeting hope that a man like Bernie Sanders was a Sure Thing after vanquishing a rat-faced neoliberal mayor spouting empty platitudes in a deliberate clusterfuck Iowa Caucus, the narrow triumph in hard-nosed New Hampshire, and a complete, victory-lap worthy blowout in Nevada before watching voter suppression, an in-the-tank media apparatus and the antibodies of the Party Elite work in wish-dashing concert to coronate a senile Blue Dog Democrat with sexual assault allegations to go up against Lawrence Limburger from Biker Mice from Mars in November.

Lawrence Limburger | Villains Wiki | Fandom

How embarrassing that would’ve been, for me. I’m not particularly incisive regarding policy or legislation, but for a moment I had found a reluctant compromise in the Sanders campaign. He’s the only half-decent man to have a viable run for the office since The Party fucked McGovern, so it was only natural for him to crumble under the weight of an oppressive and insincere fetishization of civility and a craving for the same corporate-consolidated “normalcy” that has fucked the average worker since the dawn of economic globalization. As I sit here, at my deemed-essential night shift position, in Plague April reeking of hand sanitizer, I can’t help but feel smug as I reminisce over the last month’s total failure of Holy Free Market Capitalism, and inspired by the acts of Mutual Aid helping keep knots of people afloat. Like a bittersweet Charlie Horse, a spasm of both teenage anarchist “told-you-so” sure-headed glad-handing meets my regrettable cautious optimism that perhaps, representative democracy might do the right thing for once and it might be a laugh to, as ironically as possible, celebrate the Fourth of July in 2021.

It was not to be.

But they had to cheat. Fifteen years of hammering Emma Goldman quotes on electoralism into my brain didn’t dissuade me from getting taken by the siren song of wondering if for once in the thirty years I’ve been on this planet, everything wouldn’t intentionally and systemically suck fucking shit. What a fool, to even momentarily think you could vote your way through a middlemen orc horde snarling on behalf of the pedophile Monopoly Men, when the answer, of course, as I’ve known for most of my adult life, was to come together and raise a mob of Marauders, knives in their teeth, and rampage until the vampires and their world have been reduced to ashes beneath thousands of pairs of vegan Doc Martins. Continue reading →

Arvada Police’s Feel-Good Vest Copaganda is Trash

As if Super Bowl 53 could’ve gotten worse, the shitty town I’m imminently moving out of at the end of this month was given the national spotlight in a prime-time commercial slot! Was it the civic failure saga of the “Ghost Train to Nowhere” being highlighted to the entire country, perhaps as a cautionary tale of the dangers of allowing private contractors to ruin public transit projects? No, it couldn’t be, unless I’ve hit the lottery and started running vanity ads like Tom Steyer. Maybe an ad trumpeting the area’s diversity and representation after Brianna Titone became the state’s first transgender lawmaker in a traditionally republican-held district? Not in a million years, like Pats fans need any more hate crime fuel.

It was in fact an advertisement paid for by Ford Motors for Colorado Springs nonprofit SHIELD616 featuring an Arvada Police officer hawking for donations for body armor:

Let’s put aside that Colorado police pulled $21 million just in marijuana tax revenue last year and that Arvada is consistently rated as one of the safest cities in America, seeing just 27 violent crimes for every 100,000 residents in 2017,  or that they are a great example of totally overstocked and overmilitarization in the first place, with quick access to the Jefferson County “BearCat” armored vehicle as well as the assault weapons I see slung around the backs of uniformed officers responding to apparent traffic incidents.

Never mind that the Arvada Police Department, until an officer was hit by a car in 2009, hadn’t experienced an officer fatality since 1961. This is a town that was literally rocked by a crime wave of teenagers breaking windows and grabbing a couple of things just a few months ago, not quite the epicenter of lawlessness and flying bullets that necessitate a $5+ million commercial spot during the most-watched television event in the country.

The Police Department received 20 vest kits in a publicity ceremony last week, quick to hearken on the three officers killed last year but conveniently neglecting to point out the rampage Colorado law enforcement has been on in the early months of 2019. As of March 5th, there have been 19 officer-involved woundings and 9 fatalities, including an incident where a man was killed and a woman was wounded after police and federal marshals opened fire on a vehicle with two toddlers in it attempting to arrest the man on a probation violation. Several other officer-involved shootings involved incidents in which the police reported being allegedly hit by suspect’s cars, which is an awfully remarkable coincidence for six of those altercations, and something that the Denver Police Department had to revise policy over after paying nearly $1 million to the family of Jessie Hernandez in 2017, a teen shot to death by police while sitting in an allegedly stolen vehicle with several other children in 2015.

It seems a little odd that the officers reporting that they were struck by fleeing vehicles didn’t need to be hospitalized, and that by claiming they were struck, were able to completely usurp a citizen’s right to due process and execute the alleged suspects, especially since the largest city in Colorado changed policy regarding shooting at fleeing vehicles. A lot more cops seem to be “hit” by vehicles these days as a correlation. An interesting connection is also the relentless pursuit of charges against a man recently acquitted of killing Colorado State Patrol Trooper Cory Donahue after two mistrials in two-and-a-half years. Once again, Colorado law enforcement have positioned themselves as vindictive against the public and reinforced an us-vs-them mentality against a man who by most sane accounts was involved in a highway accident. Continue reading →

Nicholas Sandmann and the Covington Catholic Kids are Brownshirted Weasels: You’re Being Duped by a PR Firm and Probably Worse

Yesterday, in illustrating my largely “they’re-in-our-division” hatred for the Kansas City Chiefs, I brought up a story that I thought by now would have fizzled out because of common sense and decency. Nicholas Sandmann, the sneering teen made famous for squaring off against Native elder Nathan Phillips over the weekend in Washington D.C., is apparently meeting with Donald Trump in the White House tomorrow as part of the far-right’s active measures campaign to spin the narrative of the Covington Catholic school kids as victims of media bias and a left-wing mob mentality. It’s a predictable extension of the story and one a variety of outlets have fallen for in their hand-wringing about whether or not it’s OK to throw this young bigot and his friends under the bus.

As the waters of the story are muddied, it’s important to understand the basic facts before analyzing exactly what is happening with the rest of the narrative. Sandmann and other students from Covington Catholic School in Kentucky were flown into D.C. to attend the annual March for Life anti-abortion demonstration, where many of them chose to deck themselves out in Make America Great Again regalia. This happened to fall on the same day as the second Women’s March in D.C., also commemorating the ruling on Roe v Wade as well as a protest by indigenous people against the longstanding and continued marginalization of Native Americans.

Evidently either encouraged by chaperones or due to a complete lack of supervision (pick one), the students moved around National Mall in a large group, where they catcalled women, yelled right-wing slogans, and said things like “it’s not rape if you enjoy it”. This caught the attention of a group of Black Israelites, a fixture in many east coast cities notorious for aggressive, street-level proselytizing who began to heckle the group of “future school shooters” as “Donald Trump incest babies.” This interaction apparently got heated and the Native people moved to deescalate the situation, which is when the Covington students famously mocked the Native elder by doing tomahawk chop gestures, mocking “war cries” and even a Maori-inspired “school Haka” not unfamiliar at US sporting events.

Now, even engaging with the Black Israelites is a mistake akin to trying to have a nuanced debate with the Westboro Baptist Church or arguing with Scientologists, but that’s neither here nor there. These kids were roaming D.C. as a brownshirted mob, harassing women, Native and black people well before the escalation that peaked with the students chanting “Build the Wall” at Mr. Phillips. Using the Black Israelite apparent “aggression” as a an excuse for these kids is blatantly racist spin. It’s frankly unsurprising that a decades-old group notorious for yelling on street corners, unprompted, that white people are a race of demons created by an evil scientist on a Greek island chose to engage with a mob of youth screaming at Native people that they’re “drunken thieves” and that black people should “go back to Africa”. Play stupid games, win stupid prizes. In no way does any of the par-for-the-course behavior exhibited by the Black Israelites excuse the frothing frenzy exhibited towards Nathan Phillips. Continue reading →

Huge Pay Disparities Mean Denver Public Schools Should Strike, Too

As the first teacher’s strike in 30 years kicks off in LA today, Denver Public Schools looks poised to strike as well if a deal isn’t reached by this Saturday after narrowly avoiding a strike last year. Like most teachers around the country, most cannot afford to live in the districts they teach in and one in five DPS teachers work a second job. Long-standing issues in funding, particularly in regards to property taxes, mean school funding and teacher pay is an obvious issue of racial discrimination and class warfare.

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Administrative and executive salary documents

District salary documents circulating on Facebook detail a massive pay disparity between the average DPS teacher and administrative officials. While a first-year teacher makes less than $45,000 a year, a rate the union is fighting to increase by up to 10% and with the rapid rising costs of living in Denver amounting to basically an inflationary wage raise, executive directors are pulling nearly a quarter-million dollar salary. Anyone that has ever worked within a school system could tell you the teachers are being hosed. The distribution of labor between even a school principal, making upwards of $85,000 per year, and that of a teacher is astronomical: pouring through the documents, DPS has one administrator to manage every 7.5 teachers, yet one teacher for every 40 students. Couple that with the fact that teachers pay hundreds of dollars per year to supply their own classrooms, work countless hours of unpaid over-time grading papers and preparing lesson plans, and without a doubt spend the most time educating and supervising children, it’s no wonder DPS teachers are ready to form picket lines.

Despite initial record profits and promises that the legalization of marijuana would provide an influx of funding for school districts across the state, that is largely not the case. Construction projects (notoriously nebulous processes) and programs like substance abuse prevention or adding counselors are funded through grant programs from marijuana sales taxes, however, teacher’s salaries aren’t addressed because the grants are not a consistent source of budgetary income for the schools and districts. While voters in Colorado likely had issues like this in mind when voting to pass Amendment 64, the nuts and bolts of the funding limitations mean teachers, one of the last widespread unionized professions in this country not connected to health care or law enforcement, get the shaft. Continue reading →

Parsing the Leftist Outrage Over the Syrian Pullout

Last week, Donald Trump unilaterally ordered for the US military to withdraw from the Syrian’s civil war theater. Coming as somewhat of a surprise to the Pentagon, this prompted the high-profile resignations of both Secretary of Defense James Mattis and anti-ISIS coalition envoy Brett McGurk. A bipartisan condemnation ensued, accusing Trump of abandoning allies and setting a dangerous precedent for future military excursions.

This also enraged the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces primarily responsible for waging the lion’s share of the war it took to dislodge ISIS from control of vast swaths of Syria, largely with the help of coalition air support from the United States and Russia. Some 2,000 US military personnel on the ground, training SDF forces and providing targeting information over the last several years, were reportedly deeply unhappy as well with the order to abandon the SDF’s mission.

While ISIS isn’t quite, as Trump declared, extinguished in Syria, the idea that they would regain significant territory or pose a threat beyond guerrilla terror actions is a slim chance. Assad, as his father before him did, has endured the war and will likely seek Russian-guided mediation with the remaining fractured rebel groups. The NATO proxy now abandoned, reconciliation between the SDF and Assad also seems likely as the two rarely fought during the war.

On paper, this seems like a tidy end to what has been a devastating, terrifying conflict for the region. Supporters of Donald Trump attracted to his isolationist foreign policy rhetoric cheered the move and chided Democrats that otherwise normally encourage reductions in US military involvement in foreign lands as flip-floppers, even accusing them of being in line with the neoconservatives so reviled by so-called libertarians and anti-war liberals alike.

Some anti-imperialist internationalist “far-leftists” decried the pull-out too, eyeing the social revolution in Kurdish Rojava (a presently semi-autonomous zone carved out during the war, seen as an opportunity for a Kurdish homeland) and its vulnerability to being crushed by an imminent invasion from Turkey, citing elements of the Kurdish Worker’s Party (PKK) operating within or controlling entirely the YPG/YPJ (People’s Protections Units, largely Kurdish militias that spearhead the SDF) as casus belli. Other anti-imperialist internationalist “far-leftists” praised the move, citing that a reduction in US military imperialism as more important than a burgeoning revolution, likely still bitter that an ostensibly anarcho-communist influenced militia made the frankly pragmatic move to accept US military support in exchange for not being completely wiped out by ISIS at the peak of their strength just a few years ago.

There’s a lot going on here, it’s extremely confusing, there’s a lot of acronyms, and making sense of the various viewpoints and ideological axes to grind is tough to do.

Continue reading →

John Allen Chau is a Stupid Asshole and I’m Glad He’s Dead

The internet, particularly in anti-religious corners, exploded with a level of smug schadenfreude likely unseen since a vegan lady died climbing Mt. Everest when American Christian missionary John Allen Chau was killed by Sentinelese tribespeople upon landing on their preserved and travel-prohibited island in an attempt to spread the good news sometime last week. Chau, who apparently spent three years planning the trip, believed he was answering a call from God to bring gifts and translate the Bible to the basically uncontacted island tribe, which has had an enforced 5-mile radius travel ban around their small island after the tribe killed two fishermen in 2006. After contracting fishermen to sail him to the island, he paddled in on a canoe, where he was ganked with arrows immediately, retreated and documented the experience, came back singing “worship songs”, had his canoe destroyed, swam back to the boat, returned AGAIN, and was at some point finished off and dragged away. Talk about not taking the hint. His body has not been recovered and several of the fishermen (who warned him not to go) have been detained in connection to the case.

Fuck this piece of shit.

Western media, particularly this article on CNN, have somewhat thoughtfully memorialized this Jesus freak idiot for his persistence, quoting faithful friends now calling him a “martyr” for the Christian faith and comparing him to fellow moron missionary Jim Elliot. Newsflash: you don’t get to be a martyr for your beliefs if those you’re attempting to impose them on can’t understand a fucking word you’re saying and are likely murdering you in complete self-defense after colonialism brought diseases they have no immunity for (for starters) and ingrained what’s obviously a healthy distrust of outsiders. This is an island rigorously protected for these exact reasons, you’ve sneaked in anyhow to recruit new book club members from, to put it mildly, an uninterested audience, and got murked after returning, WOUNDED, twice. I have no sympathy, take your Darwin Award you stupid, arrogant jackass. Continue reading →

Longmont’s Village Idiot, Henry McNevin

Colorado is a “purple state”, so the myth goes, and every so often, our local media is forced to cover our state’s rube eccentrics, our “colorful” bootlickers, our Lost Cause Sons of the Confederacy racists and what their idiot views are despite time and demographic shifts rapidly diminishing any political capital any of these jackasses once had. The purple state is a myth, lip-service to slack-jawed bigots choosing to live out in the middle of nowhere playing farmer and pretending they’re the backbone of America as corporate agribusiness reduces their role in the economy to hobbyists spending their days riding a tractor they aren’t even allowed to fix themselves. They’re nothing but bumpkin cosplayers living off government subsidies while complaining about the “inner cities” that generate the revenue that enables them to live their “authentic, real American” lifestyle while they enjoy getting jerked off by district politicians that inflate their voting power due to gerrymandering, working as intended to keep the rest of the country held hostage by these backwards, salt-of-the-earth shitheads waiting around for fracking company to buy out their farm. When the skoal comes around to bite them in the ass with mouth cancer, I’ll dance on their graves and spit in the faces of their widows that didn’t nip their fascist talk radio habit in the bud forty years ago.

Henry McNevin, 84, of Longmont, CO (home to the World’s Largest Stickerball but slowly being taken over by craft breweries) is one such character. McNevin made the news last week in the midst of the Supreme Court confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh, putting a sign in his yard that said the judge had been gang-raped by Democrats, riling up sane members of the town on Nextdoor. This isn’t the first time McNevin has generated controversy, two years ago he put up a grammatically-challenged sign directed towards Muslims before having to take it down after some local heroes allegedly threatened to demonstrate in front of his house and “destroy his property.” Direct action gets the goods, Longmont.

McNevin is a waste of flesh and a hatemonger, spending his twilight years pissing people off through A-Frames because his way of life is essentially pointless in the modern era, his views abhorrent in a time when his neighbors and the rest of us wait out his generation’s death in a hope it isn’t too late to reverse course and move towards social progress. He’s an old troll, throwing out baseless accusations to see his name in the paper in an effort to validate his relevancy, and the media falls for it because we live in a time of sensationalism that uses outrage to generate ad revenue. Hiding behind the shield of the First Amendment, this sad old man’s dying gasps about people he’s likely never met or the fellatio of powerful men that don’t give a rat’s ass about him are more pathetic examples of this country’s worst elements stating things they “can say” when the reality is they probably should keep it to themselves. Googling him yields nothing of substance apart from his signs, likely destined for the garbage dump or a re-purposing for another flash-in-the-pan political sentiment. He will be remembered for nothing but ignorance, racism, and hyperbole.

Unless we act now.

For between $300-$700, the community of Colorado could erect its own sign, with its own baseless accusation that Henry McNevin routinely drugs and forces livestock to have sex with him. I’m frankly tired of seeing the establishment left time and time again take the high road with morons that barely have the common courtesy to get their facts straight. That’s why I’m raising money to fund a billboard in the Denver Metro area in tribute to McNevin’s memory. Please donate today, to pay back Henry for being a shit neighbor that has subjected thousands of people to his trash opinions for years, and to make sure he’s remembered for more than just being a racist and a rape apologist, but also a horse cock connoisseur, a bovine blower, and a pig penetration enthusiast. Let’s let highway commuters everywhere know about Henry’s own assumed predilections, just like he loves to broadcast his views about Islam and Democrats gang-raping Supreme Court Justices.

Henry McNevin of Longmont, Colorado rapes farm animals. Donate Today.

Arvada’s Response to the G-Line Tests Illustrates How Astonishing it is That Anyone Here is Even Able to Put on Pants in the Morning

Without a doubt, and it has been said before, my favorite ax to grind is Colorado’s Regional Transport District. Seemingly resolute in their determination to prove that contracting out what should be a public utility to the lowest bidders actually undermines the lauded efficiencies of capitalism, they almost stand in direct defiance of America’s predominant worldview. It’s a case study as to why certain industries should never be run as a profit-motivated business.

It’s like a satire of a transit agency. Their trains are better vessels to commit suicide with than commute to work in. I’ve met heroin addicts more punctual than the overworked and underpaid operators and the construction and opening of new lines goes about as smoothly as rubbing your cock on a belt sander. It’s trash. It’s for the birds. Their board of directors ought to be flayed to ribbons, smoked and cured, and then turned into birdcage liner. A loosely-affiliated network of Romanian gypsy cab dispatchers could replace them with better results, a higher level of customer satisfaction, and less life-threatening stab wounds.

But in regards to the citizenry of Arvada complaining about the long-awaited, infinitely delayed G-Line testing process, for once I’m going to do the unthinkable and defend the absolute bane of my existence. My unyielding, vicious crusade will briefly take a knee to concentrate on the flank of another front, a group so vile I hate them even more than the tax scam artists at RTD: the people of Arvada, Colorado.

If you’ve never lived or worked in Arvada, let me break it down for you: everyone here is either 91 years-old with completely nothing to do or 12 and-a-half with completely nothing to do. They roll up the sidewalks at about ten at night, making the only people still awake in town cops looking for the seventeen drunk white supremacists driving around after hanging out at a strip-mall dive bar that is named after the shopping center it’s nestled into. There are no jobs outside of short-lived retail stores run by former stay-at-home moms needing a pet project, the corporate service industry (or smaller restaurants barely fighting off their seventh sexual harassment lawsuit), or wiping the shit out of the asses of the generation that ruined this country (but somehow still own every rental property in the metro area not gobbled up by some Air B&B Techbro from Riverside, CA or scummy housing flipper) in the various retirement and nursing homes that dot the post-farming community landscape. Any quaint charm said farming industry might have had is disintegrated by the view of four starving, token horses the property owner keeps alive while he waits for a development company to buy him out and build a new gaudy subdivision with substandard building materials. If you’re a licensed EMT, you can work for one of the 30 private urgent care facilities, where you drive an ambulance around town annoying everybody while you cart out the aged dead at rates unseen since the Black Plague. Continue reading →

US Prisoners Strike Against 13th Amendment Sanctioned Slavery

“The degree of civilization in a society is revealed by entering its prisons.”

-Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Today, after months of preparation, many prisoners in the United States will go on an unprecedented work strike in protest of inhumane treatment and exploitation within the penal system. Starting today and ending on September 9th, the anniversary of the 1971 Attica uprising, it’s likely that many inmates will face absurd and unjust retaliation for their organizing work (some already have), supported primarily by the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee, a branch of the IWW, which I was a member of for several years. It’s important that the public is aware of the gravity of this situation, the issues being raised, and that as “citizens” we turn as much focus as possible towards this struggle in an effort to protect some of the least visible human beings in society from further violence at the hands of the institutions that hold them. Their demands are not lofty:

  1. Immediate improvements to the conditions of prisons and prison policies that recognize the humanity of imprisoned men and women.
  2. An immediate end to prison slavery. All persons imprisoned in any place of detention under United States jurisdiction must be paid the prevailing wage in their state or territory for their labor.
  3. The Prison Litigation Reform Act must be rescinded, allowing imprisoned humans a proper channel to address grievances and violations of their rights.
  4. The Truth in Sentencing Act and the Sentencing Reform Act must be rescinded so that imprisoned humans have a possibility of rehabilitation and parole. No human
    shall be sentenced to Death by Incarceration or serve any sentence without the possibility of parole.
  5. An immediate end to the racial overcharging, over-sentencing, and parole denials of Black and brown humans. Black humans shall no longer be denied parole because the victim of the crime was white, which is a particular problem in southern states.
  6. An immediate end to racist gang enhancement laws targeting Black and brown humans.
  7. No imprisoned human shall be denied access to rehabilitation programs at their place of detention because of their label as a violent offender.
  8. State prisons must be funded specifically to offer more rehabilitation services.
  9. Pell grants must be reinstated in all US states and territories.
  10. The voting rights of all confined citizens serving prison sentences, pretrial detainees, and so-called “ex-felons” must be counted. Representation is demanded. All voices count.

In Colorado, several inmates at the Sterling Correction Facility reported to the Denver Anarchist Black Cross (disclosure: I was also a member of this organization, a prisoner support group, for a number of years) that they have begun a hunger strike in response to punitive policies that have placed several dozen prisoners in administrative segregation in a collective punishment practice. Inmates are citing a settled case that is supposed to place restrictions on solitary confinement in Colorado, as well as demanding crucial commissary restitution after prison-issued tablets were recalled and outstanding subscription money wasn’t refunded. The men in Sterling are also fighting for correspondence courses to strengthen ties with family on the outside.

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Eric King

I’d also like to use this space to bring attention to the case of Eric King, incarcerated for actions taken in support of the Ferguson Revolt and sentenced to ten years in federal penitentiary. Eric was moved to a Secure Housing Unit (solitary) last week and then transferred to the high-security SHU in Florence, Colorado. The reasons for this punishment is unclear, and it remains to be seen if this is connected to the larger prison strike struggle, as Eric is a vocal political prisoner, but has also been put in the SHU before after filing complaints about a guard who threatened Eric and his partner’s children during a visit, and the authorities blamed his correspondence with people on the outside. You can learn more about Eric King here, and he loves receiving mail! His updated address is posted here alongside guidelines for writing him. His partner was recently in a car accident and is fighting health issues. She is a friend of mine, and if you feel so inclined, please donate to help offset the costs of her medical treatments and automobile repairs.

On the outside, active solidarity to support prisoners is springing up across the United States and the world. It’s Going Down is constantly updating a page with news and ways to help, including call-in campaigns, rallies, and other actions to take to support the strike. The despicable “Silent Sam” statue was toppled last night at UNC-Chapel Hill in North Carolina and demonstrators held banners in support of the strike. Widespread graffiti murals have been reported and photographed as far away as Lisbon, Portugal and Indonesia.

I’ll be writing as much as I can about the strike as news breaks, likely trying to keep my focus on local facilities and solidarity actions here in Colorado in the next few weeks. Until all are free, strength to the prison rebels.