Thursday, February 26, 2009

Queen of the Bolsheviks: The Hidden History of Dr. Marie Equi, by Nancy Krieger

Queen of the Bolsheviks: The Hidden History of Dr. Marie EquiQueen of the Bolsheviks: The Hidden History of Dr. Marie Equi by Nancy Krieger
  • $2.00 from left-wing books dot net
  • Saddle-stitched pamphlet
  • 30 pages
  • Published by Kersplebedeb in 2009
  • ISBN 1-894946-30-8

Now forgotten, Dr. Marie Equi was a physician for working-class women and children, a lesbian, and a dynamic and flamboyant political activist, active first in the women's suffrage movement and the Progressive Party, and later alongside the IWW.

Spanning the period from the consolidation of northern industrial capitalism to the emergence of the U.S. as the dominant imperialist power, Equi's life serves as a chronicle of her times and illuminates how one person was affected by and sought to change world events.

A little while back a friend sent me a link to the wikipedia page about Equi and from there i learned about this essay by Nancy Krieger, which appeared in the September-October 1983 issue opf Radical America. Luckily, the Center for Digital Initiatives at Brown University has scanned in all issues of Radical America (including this one), and so with the kind permission of Dr Krieger i have turned her groundbreaking text into a pamphlet.

Thrilled by the militancy of the IWW, its commitment to organizing the unorganized, and its recognition—as stated in its preamble—of the “historic mission of the working class to do away with capitalism,” Equi underwent a profound change. She began to perceive the present as history, to see history and politics as the expression of class conflict, and to realize that with this understanding one can change history. Accordingly, Equi entered a period where her life became inextricably bound with the history and politics of her times.

We owe a debt of gratitude to Nancy Krieger for sharing this important chapter of herstory with us.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Up to 30% off Kersplebedeb Titles: Left-Wing Books dot Net

Once upon a time i had a nice website. People thought it was nifty, and that made me glad.

Then along came web 2.0, and increasingly my poor little kersplebedeb website became about as impressive as a cluttered desk, on which it's barely possible to find anything, never mind anything you actually might want.

Oh, the indignity of it all.

Well, no more: i now have a spiffy new website, with a spiffy new domain:

It's got a shopping cart system, it's rigged out to calculate your postage, and you can even pay via credit cards. Whoopedy doo!

i'm still stocking the database, but i do have most of my books and pamphlets up. i expect to have a lot of fun tweaking the code and kicking it into some kind of shape that feels nice to me - by which time no doubt web 3.0 or 4.0 will be around to make it look like the slow kid in the class again.

Oh well.

For the next week, until March 1st, i'm having an "Opening Sale" to celebrate by newfound cyber-sleekness. Order almost anything and get 10% off if your total comes out to more than ten bucks. An additional 20% off of those things i've actually published, for a grand total of 30%.

Have fun, and let me know what you think.

Israeli Apartheid Week in Montreal


Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) is an annual international series of events held in cities and campuses across the globe. The aim of IAW is to educate people about the nature of Israel as an apartheid system and to build Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaigns as part of a growing global BDS movement. In Montreal, local solidarity groups and individuals are planning nine full days of awareness-raising events ranging from lectures and workshops to film screenings.

This year, marking its 5th anniversary, IAW is taking place in the wake of Israel's barbaric assault against the people of Gaza. Recently, across Montreal, and around the globe, thousands of people took to the streets to denounce the ongoing atrocities committed by Israel. The past few years have seen a sharp increase of literature and analysis that has sought to document and challenge Israeli apartheid, including reports issued by major international bodies and human rights organizations, and findings published by political leaders, thinkers, academics, and activists. Since the assaults on Gaza, these voices have grown stronger, louder, and have captured the world`s attention. The aim of IAW is to contribute to this chorus of international opposition to Israeli apartheid.

Join us in making 2009 a year of struggle against apartheid and for justice, equality, and peace.

IAW McGill
IAW Concordia


opening panel of Israeli Apartheid Week
APARTHEID IN CANADA: Frontline voices of Indigenous resistance on Turtle Island
a lecture featuring: Elizabeth Penashue, Judy Da Silva and Laith Marouf
Concordia University, Hall Building, Room H-110
1455 de Maisonneuve West, (métro Guy-Concordia)

Prisoners of Apartheid: the struggle from behind bars
a lecture featuring: Soha Bechara
Cégep de St-Laurent, salle Émile-Legault
625 Avenue Sainte-Croix (métro Du collège)

Boycott Israel: The Apartheid State
a lecture featuring: Ronnie Kasrils
McGill University, Shatner University Centre , Ballroom
3480 McTavish, North of Sherbrooke (métro Mcgill)

THURSDAY MARCH 5th, 6:30pm
Apartheid Israel: Democracy as an Existential Threat
a lecture featuring: Omar Barghouti
McGill University, STEWART Biology, Room S 1/4
1205 Avenue Docteur Penfield, corner Drummond (métro Peel)

FRIDAY MARCH 6th, 6:30pm
A mother from Gaza: Surviving Under Seige
a lecture featuring: Laila El-haddad
Concordia University, Hall Building, Room H-937.
1455 Maisonneuve oust (métro Guy-Concordia)

No Pride in Apartheid: Event featuring films and a discussion focussing on
queer struggles against Israeli occupation and apartheid.
“Black Laundry” and “Zero Degrees of Separation”
Cinema du Parc (3575 Parc Ave.)

SUNDAY MARCH 8th, 12pm
Demonstration: International Womens Day and Palestinian Block
WOMEN DEMAND A NEW WORLD ORDER: End Imperialism, Occupation, War, Exploitation and Repression!

carré Cabot corner St. Catherine | Atwater
(métro Atwater)

SLING SHOT HIP-HOP : Hip Hop against Apartheid
film screening co-presented with Cinema Politica
Concordia University, Hall Building, room H-110
1455 de Maisonneuve West, (métro Guy-Concordia)

Israeli Apartheid Week in Montreal is endorsed by the following groups:
L'Association pour une solidarité syndicale étudiant (ASSÉ) * l'Association étudiante de la culture arabe de l'UQÀM * Association des Étudiants Musulmans de L'Université de Montréal * Bloquez l'empire-Montréal * Canadian Arab Federation * Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) * Le Centre Social Autogéré/Autonomous Social Center * Le Collectif opposé à la brutalité policière (COBP) * La coalition pour la justice en Palestine (UQÀM) * 8 March Coordination and Action Committee of Women of Diverse Origins * Immigrant Workers Center * Independent Jewish Voices * Iranian Women's Association * No One Is Illegal-Montréal * Opération Objection * La Otra Campaña de Montréal * McGill Arab Law Students Association * PINAY - The Filipino Women's Organization in Quebec * Projet Accompagnement Solidarité Colombie (PASC) * La Pointe Libertaire * Quebec Public Interest Research Group (QPIRG)-Concordia * Quebec Public Interest Research Group-McGill * Q-Team * Radlaw - McGill University Radical Law Community * Solidarity Across Borders * Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights (SPHR)-Concordia * Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights (SPHR)-McGill * Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights (SPHR)-National * Les Sorcières, collectif feministe * Tadamon * 2110 Centre for Gender Advocacy

To ENDORSE Israeli Apartheid Week in Montreal, make a DONATION towards the fundraising efforts of Israeli Apartheid Week, or GET INVOLVED with organizing efforts, including promotion and publicity, get in touch with us by e-mail at

Major Victory in Adil Charkaoui Case

The following from the Justice for Adil campaign:

Security certificate regime suffers another blow But the battle against 'big brother' is far from over ...

Four years after Adil Charkaoui was placed under draconian "preventive conditions", he will finally be able to walk out of his front door without his mother and father. A decision by the Federal Court released on Friday, 20 February 2009 did away with the bulk of the conditions which have suffocated the Charkaoui family since Adil was released from prison on 18 February 2005. (Read decision at or

In an impromptu press conference, Adil told journalists how much he was looking forward to things that would seem completely banal to most people, such as going out to a restaurant with his wife and children or taking the kids to the park by himself. For the first time since he left prison four years ago, he was able to make a phone call from a telephone outside his home. His tentative plans for the evening included a late-night drive around the city with his family.

Adil is no longer barred from using the internet and there are no longer any restrictions on his use of telephone, cell phone or fax. He will not have to present himself at the Canadian Border Services Agency every week; he no longer has to live in the same building as his mother or father. He has no curfew. He will be able to leave the island of Montreal. His father will no longer be required to write regular reports about his behaviour. Most importantly, he is able to leave his home alone, unaccompanied by his mother and father. Many of the basic liberties that were stolen from him for four years have been restored. His parents are freed from the burden of playing prison guard and spy to their son.

Significantly for the future of his case, Federal Court Judge Tremblay Lamer wrote that, "if (Charkaoui) had had the profile of a sleeper agent nine years ago, it is obvious that it could no longer be the same today in light of the publicity surrounding his case." (40) Giving even stronger grounds for optimism, the judge also stated that the evidence before her did not indicate that Adil poses any danger to others. (42)

Asked by a reporter "what more he wanted" Adil said "Justice!". He went on to explain that he wanted, above all, to clear his name.

As significant as yesterday's decision was, the Charkaouis' struggle is far from over. The conditions, just like the 21 months Adil spent in prison, were imposed without any court decision on the validity of the security certificate itself. This decision has never been made in Adil's case (neither for the original certificate issued in May 2003 nor for the certificate that was issued in February 2008 under the revised law). Adil thus faces a continuing court process under an unconstitutional and unjust law and still lives under the threat of having the conditions re-imposed and of being deported to Morocco.

Furthermore, he is still forced to undergo the humiliation of wearing a GPS-tracking bracelet and a series of other invasive restrictions, including: the obligation to notify the government of any change of address; surrendering his passport and other travel papers to the Canadian Border Services Agency; notifying authorities 48-hours in advance before leaving Montreal; allowing the Canadian Border Services Agency access to his computer at any time without prior notice; and non-association with any
person who is deemed to represent a threat to 'national security' or who has a criminal record. (44)

The judgement is silent about why any conditions - let alone these particular conditions - are necessary or justified. It refers in passing to the need to, "assure that the danger remains neutralized until the Court determination of the reasonability of the certificate" (37), but fails to establish that there was any danger in the first place. On the contrary, the only part of the judgement which assesses the weight of the evidence concludes, as noted above, that there is no risk of a crime being committed and that Adil does not pose a danger to others (42). More place is given to explaining why the former conditions should no longer be imposed (36 to 41) than to justifying those which are retained. There is a clear echo of "guilty until proven innocent", with the unproven opinion of the spy agency CSIS still being taken so seriously that it is considered sufficient grounds to restrict the freedom of an individual, without so much as an explanation.

There is far to go in the fight against the dangerous ideology that gained so much ground after 11 September 2001. In the press conference, Adil highlighted two symbols of this ongoing struggle: Guantanamo North, the detention centre in Kingston built especially for security certificate detainees, has not yet been closed; and Omar Khadr is still in Guantanamo Bay.

Moreover, three other security certificate detainees - Mohamed Harkat, Mahmoud Jaballah, and Mohammad Mahjoub - and their families remain under the most extreme form of house arrest in Ontario. Hassan Almrei remains in Guantanamo North, despite having been ordered released over a month ago. Decisions on whether to continue their conditions are expected in the coming weeks.

Friday's victory - the work of literally hundreds of people over the past years - is clearly only a tiny step towards justice and democracy. Continued community support and activism on these issues remains as important as ever.

Mainstream media coverage of the decision:
(Report prepared by MJF.)

Pacifism as Pathology Mini-Review

Pacifism as Pathology: Reflections on the Role of Armed Struggle in North America Pacifism as Pathology: Reflections on the Role of Armed Struggle in North America by Ward Churchill

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
i had given this book two stars from memory - what had stuck in my mind was Churchill's conflation of what happened to the Jews during the Holocaust and what might befall the American New Left, and what i remembered as being his dismissal of prefigurative politics.

However, upon rereading it i think this was a case of the good fading from memory with time, while the bad became larger than it really was. i still think Churchill's "Jews being led to the slaughter" argument is a red herring - it had nothing to do with pacifism, just with inadequate politics - but it always strikes me a somewhat cruel to look back in retrospect and sneer at people for not having had their crystal balls polished enough. Plus, while there may be no hard and fast dividing line between "regular people" and "revolutionaries", comparing repression which is visited upon self-declared activists and violence that is visited upon people regardless of their political or cultural self-identification is just mixing apples and oranges.

But these are side-issues, in what is indeed a wonderfully concise and well argued appeal to reject pacifist ideology. i appreciate it all the more with Churchill's new introduction (i had only ever read the essay in its original form as an article in New Studies on the Left) and Mike Ryan's piece, which is nice for me in particular as he's talking about debates that happened here in Montreal that i remember from my years as an anarcho-brat.

View all my goodreads reviews.

Monday, February 23, 2009

IWD Montreal: Women of Diverse Origins Demand a New World Order!

On International Women's Day in Montreal, 2009:
Women of Diverse Origins will demand a New World Order:
End Imperialism, Occupation, War, Exploitation and Repression!

The 8th March Committee of Women of Diverse Origins demands nothing more and nothing less. We demand an end to patriarchy and misogyny in terms of family relations, societal and political institutions, culture and the media.

In the current local and global context what is needed is a new world order that clearly identifies the roots of the current problems women and our families face around the world. The multiple oppressions generated by patriarchy and capitalism have brought us to where we are today – a world of on-going and multiple wars, severe economic insecurity, exploitation of the marginalized – class, gender and race. It is simple. It is clear. Nothing less than a completely different order, a new world order can bring about a change for a better world.

We are at a point in world history where we will not be fobbed off with 'the greater evil', 'that change comes slowly' that the demand for a better world is 'a utopian dream'. We know what the problems are. We know their causes. Only a total overhaul of the current systems can bring about lasting and meaningful change – justice and equality for all. The rapacious demands of corporations and governments in their pay with their war machines reap havoc, death and destruction on the innocent around the world, while petty despots oppress with impunity, unhindered. The free-flowing movement of capital around the world pushes workers everywhere to the lowest common denominator in terms of job security, wages and exploitative conditions. People flee war, political oppression and economic disaster to become even more exploited wherever they land. Minorities are targeted with violence and brutality.

There will be two events to discuss the problems and the urgency for a new world order and what that order will be. One will be a conference, on the 28th of February at Université de Montréal, 3200 Jean-Brillant starting at 9:30pm. The second will be the annual march on International Women's Day, March 8th at noon at Cabot Square. Local and international speakers as well as marchers will tie together the issues – from Barriere Lake to Palestine to Afghanistan, from the field to the factory and the kitchen table, from the local park to the jail cells to the battlefield.

Conference Speakers
  • Zoya, Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA)
  • Soha Bechara, Urgence Palestine
  • Nargess Mustapha, Montréal-Nord Républik
  • Tess Tessalona, Immigrant Workers' Centre (IWC) and March 8th Committee

Media contacts: Mubeenah Mughal 514-312-4695 (English); Marie Boti 514-598-8746 (Français)

RSS Feeds by Label

Many of us on the left, either as individuals or on behalf of organizations, have tried our hand at blogging. For myself, as someone who maintains several websites, a longtime frustration has been that the energy i am putting into the blog does not automatically get integrated into what else i'm doing. Unless i actually copy-paste a posting from Sketchy Thoughts, it won't show up on Kersplebedeb or anywhere else.

i've known about RSS feeds for a while, but they have had the disadvantage of being indiscriminate - i may want all of my posts about killer cops to show up on my Police & Justice page, but i may not want to clutter that page with all of my posts about translation.

This has been bugging me for some time, and i have searched on the internet for answers, but until a few days ago it was all to no avail. And then by luck, i came across it, a post on Blogger Buster from two years ago telling me exactly what to do.

It seems the blogger RSS feed does exist divvied out by label, and this is what it looks like:[yourblogID]/posts/[feedType]/-/[labelName]

[yourblogID] is a number that you will see in the URL bar whenever you click on anything in your blogger dashboard, right at the end it will say "blogID=" and then you'll have this big number - that's it! (mine is 17300290)

[feedType] i would want to leave as posts to give links back to my actual posts

[label] is the name of your label, with spaces replaced by %20

So my RSS feed just to my posts about "book reviews" would be:

This feed can then be placed, via blogger, on your sidebar, just as i have placed the feeds to various other blogs i like.

Of course, to integrate it into a webpage there's a few things that need to be done, involving php. While i'm learning to do this myself i don't want to try and explain it lest i make a mistake, but on my site what i am using is MagpieRSS, which you can download here - a tutorial on how to install/use it can be found here.

i'm very new to this myself, and will try to post more ideas as i come across them - in the meantime, i think this aspect of blogger feeds could prove particularly useful for myself, and maybe for you too.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Greece's Urban Guerillas

The following article from about urban guerillas in Greece:

Analysis: New brand of domestic terror in Greece seeks maximum havoc

By ELENA BECATOROS | Associated Press Writer
3:12 AM EST, February 19, 2009

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — A new and possibly more dangerous generation of Greek extremists is escalating attacks against police and symbols of capitalism, years after authorities believed they had stamped out domestic terrorism.

Police were dealing with two terror attempts within the last two days — one in which a powerful car bomb with more than 50 kilograms (110 pounds) of explosives was planted outside Citibank offices, and another in which gunmen opened fire with a submachine gun outside a TV station.

Although the Wednesday car bomb did not explode and the shooting the day before caused no injuries, they come on the heels of a spate of attacks in the past few months. Nobody has been killed so far but authorities are alarmed that the terror tactics appear to demonstrate a desire to carry out indiscriminate slaughter. Police, for example, received no warning call about the car bomb — a break with extremists' usual practice in Greece.

Greek terror groups, which have been active in Greece for decades, have never aimed for mass casualties in the style of the Irish Republican Army or Islamic jihadists. They have modeled themselves more on the 1970s European radical left-wing groups which carried out targeted killings, such as Italy's Red Brigades or Germany's Red Army Faction.

Although most such groups were eradicated in the rest of Europe, they endured in Greece, where they emerged from the resistance to the 1967-74 military dictatorship that left a legacy of deep-rooted mistrust of authority.

They have sought to portray themselves as urban revolutionaries who champion the poor and fight for the oppressed, and espoused anti-capitalist, anti-American and anti-European Union rhetoric.

But experts fear the current generation, such as Revolutionary Struggle which first appeared in 2003 and is best known for firing a rocket-propelled grenade at the U.S. Embassy in 2007, are motivated less by ideology than a desire to carry out carnage, and have shown little interest in winning public support.

"The situation is very serious," Michalis Chrisochoides, who was public order minister when members of Greece's deadliest terrorist organization November 17 were arrested in 2002, told The Associated Press. November 17 was named after the date the dictatorship sent tanks into the Athens Polytechnic to crush a student uprising in 1973. It enjoyed at least some public support in its early days, when its targets included the CIA station chief in Athens.

The group acted with impunity for nearly three decades, killing 23 people until a botched bombing in 2002 led to the arrest and conviction of more than a dozen members.

But current militants "are much more violent and much more murderous," Chrisochoides said.

There is also concern that the groups are seeking to exploit the December riots, sparked by the fatal police shooting of a teenager, Alexandros Grigoropoulos, and the growing financial crisis, which is now starting to bite in Greece.

"The credit crisis that broke out a few months ago is nothing more than the start of a speedy disintegration of a system that has been rotting for years behind the shiny but fake wrapping of apparent economic prosperity," Revolutionary Struggle said last month in a statement claiming responsibility for a gun and grenade attack that critically wounded a riot policeman.

"From here on, we can only defend the value of the human lives of the poor, the dispossessed, the damned of this society with weapons," the group said. "We will defend the values of our lives by turning against those who on a daily basis and in every way mock and devalue them and in the end take them away."

The rambling 9,000-word statement can also be seen as a call to arms for any other groups that might be willing to take up the mantle of "urban guerrilla fighters."

Greece's apparently newest extremists, who call themselves Sect of Revolutionaries, might have heeded that call, although some experts believe they are connected to Revolutionary Struggle or could be a splinter group.

They entered the scene with a gun and grenade attack against an Athens police station last month that caused no injuries, and are suspected of being behind Tuesday's attack on the TV station.

Their proclamation, in which they vow to expand targets to include journalists and politicians, was striking for its cynicism and lack of political ideology or any attempt to garner public support.

"From now on the life of every cop is worth as much as a bullet, while their bodies are the ideal target practice," said the group.

Police officers, "like the doughnuts that they eat, are no good without a hole in the middle," said the statement.

Criminology professor Vasilis Karydis noted that the text opens with a quote from the Red Army Faction, considered among Europe's most violent.

Sect of Revolutionaries "gives the impression of extreme violence at any price and without too many explanations," Karydis said.

As the statement said: "We don't feel the need to justify or even explain our action. We don't do politics, we do guerrilla warfare."

Brady Kiesling, a former political officer at the U.S. Embassy in Athens who is writing a book on November 17, said the departure from Greek extremist tradition of careful targeting was alarming.

"The sense that human life is precious has protected Greece from violence for a long time, and now you have a group saying it's not precious. It could be bravado, but it could be that the old social (belief) has worn off," Kiesling said.

"If that's true, things are dangerous."


Elena Becatoros is AP's Athens bureau chief.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

[Toronto] The Power of People: Community Responses to Capitalism in Crisis

Toronto comrades have organized an impressive evening of discussion about the period we have entered - i certainly hope the organizers will be taping or videotaping it to put it online:

The Power of People: Community Responses to Capitalism in Crisis

The current crisis of capitalism is much broader than the current credit crunch, plunging stock and housing markets. This crisis is about our ability to buy food, to afford housing and transit, find work, and access welfare and disability support money. Please join us for an evening of discussion and food. Come hear directly from a diverse panel of community organizers about their experiences and strategies of resistance.


organizer with the Miami-based Take Back the Land, a grass-roots group that has been liberating public and foreclosed land and homes since 2006. They are asserting the right of the Black community to control the land upon which they live, work, play, learn and worship.

longtime Quebec activist and a member of the Internationalist Workers Group.

organizer with Migrante-Ontario (Toronto), an alliance of Filipino migrants’ organizations whose mission is to continuously uphold and defend the rights and welfare of Filipino migrants and their families, both at home and abroad.

organizer with OCAP (Toronto), a direct-action anti-poverty organization that mounts campaigns against regressive government policies as they affect poor and working people and provides direct-action advocacy for

Hosted by: OCAP
(Ontario Coalition Against Poverty)
(Graduate Geography and Planning Students Society of UofT)

MEETING: 3pm; MEAL: 5pm
252 Bloor St. West
(St. George Subway Station)

By Donation/PWYC


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Prisoners Savagely Attacked by Racist Guards at SCI Camp Hill, PA

This from the Human Rights Coalition=Fed Up!, this report on what is being called the "Inauguration Day Atrocity", where six men were targeted for assault with chemical and electrocution weapons by guards calling them "niggers" in retaliation for these prisoners continuing to file grievances, pursue civil litigation, expose prison conditions to the public, and otherwise seek justice.

Chemical and electro-shock weapons used
Racist violence and repression on the rise again
Take action Today Tomorrow and Next Week.

Forward further and wider than ever because enough is enough!

On January 20, 2009 guards in the Special Management Unit (SMU) at the State Correctional [sic] Institution (SCI) in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania assaulted six prisoners, reportedly citing as reasons that these men file grievances against guard misconduct and are engaged in civil litigation against DOC officials; contact outside organizations (HRC/Fed Up! and in particular) to expose conditions of torture; also to send a message-in their words: "fuck a historical day, y'all always going to be niggers."

Seven men inside the state's premier torture unit have testified to the following events in reports to HRC/Fed Up!, including six men who submitted Declarations of Truth pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1746 and subject to the penalty of perjury, adding to the hundreds of pages of prisoner reports, additional Declarations, institutional paperwork, and civil litigation documents sent to our offices from the SMU at Camp Hill alone since only June of 2008. The incidents have been verified in a personal interview with Mr. Damont Hagan, who has since been transferred (as we've been demanding for 5 months). Superintendent's Assistant Robert Volciak further verified that four or five men were subjected to forcible cell extractions on the 20th in a telephone conversation of January 26th. Several others around the state and the country, from Louisiana to California, have received reports of these assaults as well and contacted our offices.

We are asking that you read the alert, become angry, and act accordingly to help protect the men in the SMU and by extension all others subjected to the normalized white supremacist torture occurring on a daily basis inside prisons in the state of Pennsylvania and throughout the U.S.

Inauguration Day

David Smith #FZ5176: On 1/20/09 C/O Liddick, C/O Zeigler, and Lt. Kuzar approached Gary Tucker's cell upon the pretext of wanting to conduct a search, despite having conducted one on 1/15/09. When Tucker came to the door, Liddick said, "Since this guy likes filing grievances, let's make an example out of him." Tucker refused to leave his cell after Kuzar denied his request to have a Captain or Unit Manager present. Willie Robinson then refused to leave his cell out of fear for his safety. David Smith then consented to a cell search, and was promptly assaulted by the above named staff and thrown in another cell, separated from his property. Mr. Smith reportedly suffered undisclosed injuries.

Gary Tucker #FG8520: In his own words: "A little later that morning a cell extraction team came to my cell. I was then told to come to the door and cuff up. When I walked to the door a guard opened the slot and sprayed me in the face with a whole lot of OC mace. I backed away from the door blinded; seconds later more mace was sprayed inside the cell, trapping my lungs up, that's when about 7 guards (including Lt. Kuzar, C/O Brant) charged into the cell slamming me to the bed with electric shields [that discharge 50,000 volts of electricity]. These electric shields were pressed against my body and held there for several minutes while the 6 guards took turns beating, kicking, and shocking me with hand held stun guns. After cuffing me they continued beating me down and shocking me. The guard holding the camera maneuvered the camera so that the beating couldn't be caught on it. From D-12 I was dragged out the cell and hoisted into the medical cell. There the beating continued (shocking, choking, and punching) and a male nurse squirted a liquid in my eyes that didn't seem to help at all. Next I was airlifted up a flight of stairs (after protests from several inmates about my medical condition [which requires me to be] bottom tier status. I was taken into D2-20, slammed face first to the metal bed frame and the 6 or 7 guards continued jumping and shocking me with stun guns. After several minutes of this I was stripped naked, dragged to the floor and pulled up to the tray slot and the cuffs were taken off after they tried to break my wrists. I requested to see medical but was denied the request so my injuries weren't [recorded]. The injuries suffered were as follows: face swollen both sides; wrists with deep cuts from the cuffs; stiff neck (I can barely move my neck); severe pain in my lower back which makes it hard for me to move; my right arm dislocated; badly swollen right ankle that I can't put pressure on and a bloody mouth. Several inmates witnessed this assault and the Lt. Kuzar kept yelling, "Stop resisting" which was merely a means to justify their actions in assaulting me. Truth was I never resisted; I couldn't resist at all."

Damont Hagan #DS9488: In his own words: "I was approached by C/O Brant who threatened me, informing me that I had to come out for a search, stating 'the camera can be manipulated Hagan, remember that.' He also called me a 'nigger.' . . . After a while, I told Unit Manager Chris Chambers [about the threats] . . ., and informed him that 'I fear for my life.' He retorted, "Hagan, I'm tired of this complaining to HRC and and preliminary injunctions. Y'all did this to y'all selves, now y'all scared. You're coming out regardless, so write HRC [which he did-let's be there for him] or have .com write the Attorney General again, who cares.' . . . A cell extraction team came and the same SMU staff (Brant, Kuzar) were in suit. I also witnessed them abuse Gary Tucker. They told me to cuff-up and I told them I feared for my life (on camera). Sgt. Maxwell then sprayed me with OC which got in my lungs and eyes, forcing me to cuff up." After being cuffed Hagan was taken to a cell where his clothes were cut off of him and Sgt. Maxwell whispered sexually lewd comments to Hagan regarding Lt. Flowers (a female) being present. Mr. Hagan was denied water for two days, his food was tampered with when it wasn't denied altogether, and he was left naked in a freezing cell, which caused him to become sick. He was transferred on 1/27/09 to SCI Pittsburgh.

Ronald Jackson #CF3994: Mr. Jackson refused to exit his cell because of the threatening and assaultive behavior of the guards, and was subsequently attacked with mace and punched several times in the back and head by C/O Brant, carried to another cell where C/Os Brant, Liddick, Ziegler, Lt. Kuzar, and Sgt. Maxwell cut off his clothing and cut his dreadlocks. Mr. Jackson was left bleeding behind both ears, had numbness in both hands, and cuff markings remained on his wrists for 6 days. Mr. Jackson was left naked and without property or state issue items for six days-like all the others assaulted on this day. On January 26th he was returned to his cell, which was still contaminated with mace. C/O Huber, Jones, Sabolsky, Banks, Martz, and a Lt. stole and destroyed much of his personal and legal property. In a written response to Mr. Jackson regarding this theft, Superintendent Palakovich justified yet another unmistakable effort on the part of SMU staff to deny access to the courts under the pretext that his property was contaminated with mace and needed to be destroyed as a result. Given that several of the prisoners extracted that day have reported being returned to cells still contaminated with mace, this explanation cannot be taken seriously. Mr. Jackson's lawsuit against the DOC will likely be sabotaged by this theft and destruction of his legal documents, which is a widespread practice throughout the PA DOC.

Willie Robinson #FX7258: After refusing to exit his cell for obvious reasons, Mr. Robinson was attacked by the same guards with mace and thrown in a cell that had dried blood on the walls and floor for 6 days without bed sheets or underclothing. Following this he was returned to his former cell, which was still contaminated with mace, including his bedding.

Jamar Perry #DQ4432: Mr. Perry was also attacked with mace and cell extracted on this day. According to Michael Edwards, in a Declaration subject to the penalty of perjury, Mr. Perry is severely mentally retarded, constantly covers his cell and his person with bodily waste-which he also ingests-and suffers from suicidal tendencies. Staff, including C/O Flynn, Sgt. Jones, and Lt. Kuzar, frequently call him names such as "retarded nigger," and encourage him to kill himself. Mr. Perry has been constrained in a "restraint chair" on several occasions, including the first three days of February. These devices are widely recognized as implements of torture. He reportedly wants to die, and ranking officials, including Regional Deputy Secretary Shirley Moore-Smeal have witnessed his fetid condition and taken no remedial action, despite policy provisions against housing severely mentally ill and developmentally disabled inmates in the SMU.

White Supremacy and Repression

In another Declaration from Michael Edwards, Unit Manager Chris Chambers is again alleged to have threatened Mr. Edwards for his correspondence with HRC/Fed Up! Chambers and Huber and others have repeatedly threatened Damont Hagan and Gary Tucker about their involvement with HRC and, along with other efforts to expose torture and officially-sanctioned sadism inside the SMU at Camp Hill.

An all white staff in the SMU is holding hostage and waging a one-sided war against a captive, defenseless population that is "99.9% blacks and latinos," according to Mr. Edwards.

A small sampling of racist remarks made by SMU staff, according to Declarations submitted by Michael Edwards, are as follows:

  • 1/19/09: C/O Brant stated over the PA system, "I have a dream that one day all of you niggers will be dead," after which he laughed, clapped his hands, and lit a smoke; *1/20/09: Lt. Kuzar stated, "He [Obama] may have won, in my eyes he's still a nigger." Brant and C/O Flynn started laughing at this, and Kuzar continued, "There will be no showers or yard today. We are going to show you niggers who run this SMU."
  • 1/20/09: When told Tucker has a medical condition and is not to be housed upstairs, Chambers replied, "I don't give a fuck what medical says, I want that nigger upstairs now."
  • 1/30/09: After Chambers told Mr. Edwards he would not be receiving any law books or property in retaliation for his working with HRC/Fed Up!, Huber told the inmate, "Hey listen up nigger, I have the green light to kill your black ass," before walking away from the cell laughing.
  • 2/1/09: Lt. Kuzar stated to Mr. Edwards, "Nigger do you honestly believe we are going to let you, or any of these other niggers get away with what you are doing?"

Hagan, Jackson, Tucker, Robinson, Smith, Edwards, Terry Brooks, and others in the SMU are being targeted for their refusal to be silenced and submit to a regime of white supremacist torture. These men continue to file grievances, pursue civil litigation, and write family, friends, and other allies on the outside to expose the illegal and degrading conditions they are being subjected to.

Despite being starved, gassed, electrocuted, beaten, sickened, and subjected to racist death threats on a daily basis, these men refuse to submit, they continue to resist, and they are calling on us to take action again.

This action alert is more comprehensive and far ranging in the targets it lists than the ones in November and September (provide links). We have watched the Emergency Response Network grow considerably over the last 12 months, especially during the last 4, and countless people have answered the call to defend the rights and lives of prisoners. This is why we are asking even more from our allies this time, because we trust you will continue to intensify your efforts, channeling your outrage into action and building this movement against torture and racism and for human rights.

As Michael Edwards recently wrote from the SMU: "Keep doing what you are doing, because it surely is working. Some of these guards are just walking around here banging on any and everything, and using racial slurs. This means we are winning the war." I take this to mean that this latest outburst of hate and violence by SMU guards is a desperate reaction to growing outside pressure. They are trying to silence the men in the SMU through daily acts of terror, but it is not working. Resistance continues, and the outside pressure is growing. . . .

Action Alert Targets and Talking points

DOC Targets

DOC Secretary Jeffrey Beard-717-975-4918
2520 Lisburn Road
Camp Hill, PA 17001

Superintendent John Palakovich
SCI Camp Hill
P.O. Box 200
Camp Hill, PA 17001

Office of Professional Repsonsibility
Director James Barnacle (formerly with the FBI (i.e. u.s. political police) for 30 years-see the book Agents of Reprssion by Churchill and Vander Wall for more on the criminal nature of the FBI)
2520 Lisburn Road
Camp Hill, PA 17001

1)-Report the truth of the Inauguration Day atrocity: six men were targeted for assault with chemical and electrocution weapons by guards calling them "niggers" in retaliation for these prisoners continuing to file grievances, pursue civil litigation, expose prison conditions to the public, and otherwise seek justice. Be specific, name the names of the prisoners, guards, the threats made and injuries suffered. Tell them that you are sickened by the endless reports of flagrant racism on the part of guards and the obvious approval of such by top officials in Camp Hill and the DOC. Grievances and civil suits reach Supt. Palakovich and Secretary Beard by the thousands regarding the racist attitudes and actions of staff under their command, and they refuse to take action

2)-Emphasize the role of Unit Manager Chris Chambers-demand he be fired: As our abuse logs indicate (, Unit Manager Chris Chambers, who oversees the SMU, bears command responsibility for the actions of Jones, Kuzar, Sabalsky, Banks, Flynn, Brant, and the rest. We want to build his infamy and make him a liability to the PA DOC and SCI Camp Hill. If his superiors lean on him because of the heat they feel from the people, then he will lean on SMU staff to end the torture in order to protect himself. Tell Beard that you have reviewed the accumulated evidence from the 20th and the preceding months, and that Chambers needs to be held accountable for his crimes. Failure to do so will be understood as complicity in torture. Emphasize that several prisoners consistently report that Chambers has personally told them on multiple occasions that he is punishing them for filing lawsuits and contacting HRC/Fed Up! and

3)-Transfers for Tucker, Jamar Perry, Michael Edwards, Terry Brooks, Ronald Jackson: These men need transferred immediately. When speaking of Gary Tucker tell them that his continued confinement in the SMU is a violation of DOC Policy 6.5.1 (which is top secret-forbidden to the public-and has been provided to HRC via clandestine means) which states that an inmate who does not show progress in the initial 12 to 18 months should be deemed a failure and transferred. Mr. Tucker has been in the SMU for 28 months. Furthermore, Jamar Perry suffers from severe developmental disability (i.e. reportedly mentally retarded) and needs an immediate transfer. Edwards, Brooks, and Jackson continue to face retaliation for filing grievances and lawsuits.

4)-Speak your own truths, make your own demands: If you have ideas of who to contact (press, lawyers, the Justice Department, law enforcement, United Nations, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, NAACP, ACLU) then tell the authorities of your intention and then get a hold of these organizations and have them contact us to learn more. Each one needs to conduct their own investigations to verify these truths. Also, be encouraged to tell them that they need to close down the SMU for good-it is a failed program that does nothing but torture vulnerable prisoners, and it is irredeemably racist. Please inform HRC/Fed Up! of your efforts so we can keep track of where this alert and the supporting evidence are sent and the various responses it receives. Be encouraged to become a point person for reaching out to Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the NAACP, or whoever. Just make sure you are familiar enough with the talking points and the evidence that supports them and stay in touch with us.

5)-Prior Notice: Beard and Palakovich have been notified of the criminal acts of retaliation, racist hate crimes, denial of access to the courts, assault, medical neglect, etc. months ago. There is a paper trail leading to their office and their adamant refusal to accept accountability for the actions of staff under the command of Unit Manager Chris Chambers amounts to complicity in torture.

6)-Accountability: Let it be known, finally, that we intend to see criminals held accountable, and that each denial, evasion, and deception on the part of prison officials will only strengthen our resolve to pursue justice by every means possible. We want accountability now.

7)-Special for OPR: The Office of Professional Responsibility (which is neither professional nor responsible, but is-supposedly-an office), the DOC's own internal "investigation" unit assured an HRC/Fed Up! investigator in early January that they were in fact conducting an investigation into documented human rights violations inside the SMU at Camp Hill. After declaring that they always talk to the inmates, OPR Director James Barnacle went on to directly contradict himself by admitting that their "investigation" consisted of cross-checking our documentation with the prison's own records. Given that the prison records will report only what guards say, since the word of prisoners is deemed prima facie untrue according to their totalitarian (and, yes, racist) ideology, Barnacle more or less admitted that his investigation was in fact not an investigation at all. Furthermore, we have specifically asked several of the men in the SMU if OPR has interviewed them, and with one exception (Brooks was interviewed two or three months ago about an assault he suffered in 2007), nobody had seen OPR-despite several having contacted them-by the end of January. Tell OPR that we know they are not engaged in transparent and good faith investigations, because if they were SMU staff under the command of Unit Manager Chris Chambers would not dare perpetrate such atrocities. Demand responsibility and professionalism from Barnacle.

Political Targets

Governor Ed Rendell

See numbers 1-6 above. Rendell was informed at the end of November, with considerable documentation. He sent it to OPR.

Senator Stewart Greenleaf

Inquire into the appropriate process for requesting hearings in front of the PA General Assembly, and then request a hearing-to be organized by HRC/Fed Up! and our allies-regarding torture in PA prisons. Provide him our contact information and ask that his staff get in contact with us. Tell staff what is going on in the SMU at Camp Hill.

Local PA Representatives

Hammer away at them, make these lazy, incompetent, and corrupt parasites take a stand. Demand they petition Greenleaf for a hearing. Who are these fools anyway?

Reminders about demeanor, temperament, manners, composure, etc.

Just a reminder, it is acceptable and appropriate to express anger, be firm in our demands, and not tolerate deceptions and diversions. That said, it is critical that we control our anger and not vice versa, and maintain composure and dignity in our demeanor. We want the functionaries manning the phones and reading the mail to be impressed by our command of the facts and message consistency.

Mary Ann Kushner at SCI Fayette apparently told one of our allies that HRC people had been "nasty" to her. Given Mary Ann's less than sterling reputation as a truth-teller, I assume that means you were all doing your job and holding firm to our shared principles in defense of prisoners' rights and lives, which no doubt upset Mary Ann. So, keep the cursing to the minimum amount necessary and get at them day after day after day.

And pace yourself. Make a call today, two tomorrow, another the next day, and keep at it for weeks on end. This is a long struggle and we're in it for life. Invite others to join, today. Thank you.

We need lawyers! Please help us find lawyers with grit, intelligence, and integrity who are willing to go to war with the DOC.

PS-Taking it to the Streets

Phone calls and letter writing are important, very important for providing some measure of oversight and security to the men in Camp Hill and other torture chambers in PA and the U.S. But it is but one tactic amongst many. We need to take this to the streets and get on a move. Be on the lookout for an invitation in the near future, when the entirety of the country-and beyond-will be welcomed into the state to voice their collective outrage over the dehumanizing white supremacist torture of the PA prison system.

HRC/Fed Up! has accumulated over 100 pages of documentation of human rights violations in PA prisons in the last 16 months alone, supported by thousands of pages of prisoner reports, affidavits, declarations, grievances, requests to staff, and civil litigation documents, and further corroborated by hundreds of hours of interviews/conversations with prisoners and their loved ones on the outside. We can assert with absolute confidence and substantial-in fact, incontrovertible-evidence that torture is a widespread, systemic feature of the prison system that deliberately sabotages parole and increases recidivism, hence creating the conditions for continued market growth for the prison-industrial complex.

PPS-Call and/or write us!

Who are you? Have you taken action? Can we know one another and work together to beat back this insufferable brutality? Call, email, write whenever.

Please provide feedback as to your conversations with the peoples above and other efforts undertaken to protect the men in Camp Hill's SMU.

Thank you.

Solidarity, Health, Respect,
Trust, and Struggle

Hundreds of Kids Jailed to Help Pay for Judges' Pampered Lifestyle

More dog-bites-man news here - two judges in Pennsylvania set up a kickback scheme whereby they would get paid for sending kids to private kiddie prisons. One imagines they'll get in trouble for having gotten caught, but we'll see:

Monday, February 16, 2009
PA Judges Accused of Jailing Juveniles for Cash

Judges allegedly took $2.
6 million in payoffs to put juveniles in lockups

The Associated Press
updated 8:56 p.m. ET, Wed., Feb. 11, 2009

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. - For years, the juvenile court system in Wilkes-Barre operated like a conveyor belt: Youngsters were brought before judges without a lawyer, given hearings that lasted only a minute or two, and then sent off to juvenile prison for months for minor offenses.

The explanation, prosecutors say, was corruption on the bench.

In one of the most shocking cases of courtroom graft on record, two Pennsylvania judges have been charged with taking millions of dollars in kickbacks to send teenagers to two privately run youth detention centers.

“I’ve never encountered, and I don’t think that we will in our lifetimes, a case where literally thousands of kids’ lives were just tossed aside in order for a couple of judges to make some money,” said Marsha Levick, an attorney with the Philadelphia-based Juvenile Law Center, which is representing hundreds of youths sentenced in Wilkes-Barre.

Prosecutors say Luzerne County Judges Mark Ciavarella and Michael Conahan took $2.6 million in payoffs to put juvenile offenders in lockups run by PA Child Care LLC and a sister company, Western PA Child Care LLC. The judges were charged on Jan. 26 and removed from the bench by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court shortly afterward.

No company officials have been charged, but the investigation is still going on.

The high court, meanwhile, is looking into whether hundreds or even thousands of sentences should be overturned and the juveniles’ records expunged.

Among the offenders were teenagers who were locked up for months for stealing loose change from cars, writing a prank note and possessing drug paraphernalia. Many had never been in trouble before. Some were imprisoned even after probation officers recommended against it.

Many appeared without lawyers, despite the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark 1967 ruling that children have a constitutional right to counsel.

'I have disgraced my judgeship'
The judges are scheduled to plead guilty to fraud Thursday in federal court. Their plea agreements call for sentences of more than seven years behind bars.

Ciavarella, 58, who presided over Luzerne County’s juvenile court for 12 years, acknowledged last week in a letter to his former colleagues, “I have disgraced my judgeship. My actions have destroyed everything I worked to accomplish and I have only myself to blame.” Ciavarella, though, has denied he got kickbacks for sending youths to prison.

Conahan, 56, has remained silent about the case.

Many Pennsylvania counties contract with privately run juvenile detention centers, paying them either a fixed overall fee or a certain amount per youth, per day.

In Luzerne County, prosecutors say, Conahan shut down the county-run juvenile prison in 2002 and helped the two companies secure rich contracts worth tens of millions of dollars, at least some of that dependent on how many juveniles were locked up.

One of the contracts — a 20-year agreement with PA Child Care worth an estimated $58 million — was later canceled by the county as exorbitant.

The judges are accused of taking payoffs between 2003 and 2006.

Allegations of extortion
Robert J. Powell co-owned PA Child Care and Western PA Child Care until June. His attorney, Mark Sheppard, said his client was the victim of an extortion scheme.

“Bob Powell never solicited a nickel from these judges and really was a victim of their demands,” he said. “These judges made it very plain to Mr. Powell that he was going to be required to pay certain monies.”

For years, youth advocacy groups complained that Ciavarella was ridiculously harsh and ran roughshod over youngsters’ constitutional rights. Ciavarella sent a quarter of his juvenile defendants to detention centers from 2002 to 2006, compared with a statewide rate of one in 10.

The criminal charges confirmed the advocacy groups’ worst suspicions and have called into question all the sentences he pronounced.

Hillary Transue did not have an attorney, nor was she told of her right to one, when she appeared in Ciavarella’s courtroom in 2007 for building a MySpace page that lampooned her assistant principal.

Her mother, Laurene Transue, worked for 16 years in the child services department of another county and said she was certain Hillary would get a slap on the wrist. Instead, Ciavarella sentenced her to three months; she got out after a month, with help from a lawyer.

“I felt so disgraced for a while, like, what do people think of me now?” said Hillary, now 17 and a high school senior who plans to become an English teacher.

'I was completely destroyed'
Laurene Transue said Ciavarella “was playing God. And not only was he doing that, he was getting money for it. He was betraying the trust put in him to do what is best for children.”

Kurt Kruger, now 22, had never been in trouble with the law until the day police accused him of acting as a lookout while his friend shoplifted less than $200 worth of DVDs from Wal-Mart. He said he didn’t know his friend was going to steal anything.

Kruger pleaded guilty before Ciavarella and spent three days in a company-run juvenile detention center, plus four months at a youth wilderness camp run by a different operator.

“Never in a million years did I think that I would actually get sent away. I was completely destroyed,” said Kruger, who later dropped out of school. He said he wants to get his record expunged, earn his high school equivalency diploma and go to college.

“I got a raw deal, and yeah, it’s not fair,” he said, “but now it’s 100 times bigger than me.”

The Trials of Ward Churchill

Just to let you all know, Ward Churchill's lawsuit against Colorado University goes to trial in a few weeks. As the Ward Churchill Solidarity Network tells us:

A little over a year ago, Ward Churchill was fired from his position as a professor at the University of Colorado on trumped up charges of academic misconduct. His firing was the result of one of the filthiest media smear campaigns in modern history, crushing pressure brought to bear by a number of hack politicians including Governor Bill Owens, and the overwhelming cowardice of CU’s administration.
As some of you may recall, the Churchill brouhaha started when some right-wing students noticed his essay about September 11th, Some People Push Back: On the Justice of Roosting Chickens on the Kersplebedeb website. A media feeding frenzy ensued, along with a harassment campaign against professor Churchill, as the right mobilized to use this case as the first step in a more general rollback against the academic left. (For more on this see here - and yes that's right, my little Kersplebedeb site is the "obscure website" mentioned.)

Now regardless of what one thinks of the Some People Push Back essay (gotta admit it's not one of my favourites), or about the academic left, it will be a good thing for us all if Churchill delivers a spanking to to the university and political forces that had him fired.

To keep up to date on Churchill's trials and tribulations, check out the Ward Chuchill Trial blog.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

West Germany's Urban Guerillas: Overview

The following is a quick little overview of the four largest groups that engaged in armed struggle against the West German state from the 1970s until the 1990s. The authors, André Moncourt and J. Smith, are the ones behind the editing/translating of Projectiles for the People, a documentary history of the Red Army Faction.

Care of the German Guerilla website:
West Germany's Urban Guerillas: Overview
by André Moncourt and J. Smith

The radical left in West Germany engaged in a particularly violent and militant form of struggle from the late 60s through to the mid-90s. While there were countless one-off actions carried out by ad hoc groups, and innumerable demonstrations where organized violence blurred the line between protest and resistance, no description of the movement in the Federal Republic of Germany can afford to ignore the four clandestine organizations which held aloft the banner of armed struggle during this period.

The Red Army Faction
The RAF is certainly the best known and was the most enduring of the left-wing guerilla organizations to grow out of the 60s revolutionary movement in West Germany. The group’s formation can be traced to the iconic moment on May 14, 1970, when several armed revolutionaries, including the well-known left-wing journalist Ulrike Meinhof, broke Andreas Baader, who was serving a sentence for a politically motivated arson, out of prison.

After receiving training in an Al Fatah camp in Jordan, the core of what would come to be known as the First Generation of the Red Army Faction returned to West Germany to begin the painstaking work of building a guerilla infrastructure – robbing banks, acquiring arms, explosives and phony IDs, establishing safehouses and shaping the largely Marxist-Leninist ideology they would eventually present to the world in April 1971 in a document entitled The Urban Guerilla Concept.

The RAF lost several members in armed clashes with the police before their first offensive, a wave of bombings in May of 1972 primarily targeting US military installations in West Germany. Within a month of this first foray, the majority of the individuals seen as the RAF’s leadership were behind bars, and the organization was presumed dead.

Against the odds, there followed an impressive dynamic, whereby RAF prisoners’ struggle for survival behind bars – resisting isolation torture, sensory deprivation, and legal attacks on their lawyers – would repeatedly succeed in rallying support on the outside, even inspiring new waves of activists to cross into the underground, and renew the organization.

In 1975, a group made up primarily of members of the radical therapy group the Sozialistisches Patienten Kollektiv (Socialist Patients Collective – SPK) would take up the RAF flag and fail in their efforts to gain their imprisoned comrades’ freedom through an audacious and ultimately bloody hostage-taking at the West German Embassy in Stockholm, Sweden.

Against all odds, the RAF would rise yet again, when in the autumn of 1977, they launched yet another campaign for the freedom of the prisoners – assassinating a prominent banker and the Attorney General, before kidnapping Germany’s most powerful capitalist, Hanns Martin Schleyer, demanding the release of the prisoners in exchange for his release. 43 tense days later, a supportive PFLP(EO) skyjacking had ended in disaster, leading RAF prisoners were dead, allegedly having committed suicide in despair (although most evidence makes this seem improbable) and Schleyer’s body was found in the trunk of a car in the French border town of Mullhausen.

The RAF would struggle on for 20 more increasingly violent years, through a series of ups and downs, until April 1998, with several waves of militants picking up the flag, and with varying degrees of support, but never again would it capture the imagination of the left as it had in its early days.

2nd of June Movement
The West Berlin-based 2nd of June movement, with its roots in the communes of the counterculture, was formed by members of several pre-existing groups in January 1972. Where the RAF had presented a Marxist-Leninist and largely vanguardist rationale for its politics in a series of lengthy manifesto-style documents, the 2JM’s brief program, issued shortly after its formation, offered an approach that was more anarchist, anti-authoritarian, and populist in nature. The populism and humor that the 2JM brought to its politics, in comparison to the overbearing earnestness that often marked the RAF’s approach, was perhaps best expressed in a 1975 bank robbery, during which 2JM members distributed pastries to customers and employees being held while the bank’s registers were being emptied.

While there was certainly an awareness of the 2JM and its antecedent organizations in West Berlin, and while the police killing of Georg von Rauch, a key activist from this scene, on December 4, 1971, had drawn an angry response from people throughout West Germany, it was the assassination of Supreme Court Judge Günter von Drenkmann during a kidnapping gone wrong on November 10, 1974, an action carried out in response to the death of RAF prisoner Holger Meins on hunger strike, that drew the attention of people throughout West Germany and around the world.

Von Drenkmann would be one of only three people to be killed by the 2JM, the others being a boat builder killed in a bomb attack on the British Yacht Club in West Berlin, an action carried out in response to Bloody Sunday in 1972, and a guerilla member executed in 1974 for cooperating with the police.

Where the RAF had met only with disaster in its efforts to carry out kidnappings and hostage-takings, the 2JM was to have remarkable success. On February 27, 1975, the 2JM kidnapped the conservative CDU candidate for mayor of West Berlin, Peter Lorenz, releasing him on March 4 in exchange for five imprisoned comrades, three members of their own organization, a RAF member and an activist with ties to several armed organizations, including their own. These five were flown to South Yemen, from whence they returned to the underground.

Perhaps even more remarkably, in November 1977, with Germany under effective martial law while Hanns Martin Schleyer was being held by the RAF, a 2JM cell kidnapped the Viennese businessman Walter Palmers, exchanging him for 31 million Austrian shillings five days later; money that was allegedly divvied between the 2JM, the RAF and an unnamed Palestinian organization.

A series of arrests in 1975 removed a goodly part of the 2JM from the streets, with more arrests following in 1976 and 1977.

On the highly symbolic date of June 2, 1980, a majority of 2JM members, including some of those in prison, released a communiqué announcing their fusion with the RAF. Three key imprisoned members, Klaus Viehmann, Ralf Reinders, and Ronald Fritzsch, issued an eloquent criticism, rejecting this decision, but the reality is that the 2JM was never to carry out another action.

Revolutionary Cells
In 1973, a new guerilla group announced its existence with two bombings in response to Pinochet’s coup d’etat in Chile, which had occurred on September 11 of that year (the original 9/11). The Revolutionary Cells (RZ), a group best described as autonomist, would go on to become the most prolific and complex of the major West German guerilla organizations, spawning a controversial international wing, an extremely popular and successful domestic wing and an autonomous, but ideologically and structurally linked, women’s guerilla group, the Rote Zora. Each deserves its own treatment.

The international wing, made up of relatively few members, but counting in its ranks most of the RZ’s founding members, would have a troubling history. Closely tied to the quasi-mythical Carlos and Waddi Haddad’s PFLP (EO), the international wing would be linked to the December 1975 OPEC raid in Vienna. An Austrian police officer, an Iraqi bodyguard, and a Libyan Oil Ministry representative were killed, and RZ member Hans Joachim Klein was seriously injured before the guerillas received their ransom of five million dollars and safe passage to Algeria. (Klein would later leave the guerilla, publicly denouncing the international wing and the entire armed experience; he survived underground for decades before being arrested in France in 2000.)

The RZ’s international wing would soon be in the headlines again, when two members, Wilfried Böse and Brigitte Kuhlmann, together with fighters from the PFLP (EO), skyjacked an Airbus plane en route from Tel Aviv to Athens, on June 27, 1976. The guerillas diverted the plane to the airport at Entebbe, Uganda, where Jewish passengers were segregated from the rest, who were then released. On July 3, an Israeli military commando stormed the airport, killing all of the guerillas as well as forty-seven Ugandan soldiers who were guarding the area. Given Germany’s Nazi past, the segregation of Jewish passengers and the bloody outcome, the word disaster may be too weak.

The international wing of the RZ would nonetheless continue its ill-fated relationship with Carlos and marginal elements in the Palestinian resistance until 1987. In that year, RZ founding member Gerd Albartus visited Carlos and RZ co-founder Johannes Weinrich in Syria. From Syria, the three travelled with other associates to Lebanon, where Carlos accused Albartus of cooperating with the East German Stasi before torturing and executing him and then burning his body. Four years later, on December 1991, the RZ would issue a document announcing Albartus’ death and presenting some of the details. The document would mark the beginning a debate that would fracture the RZ and, over the next several years, lead to its dissolution.

While the international wing seemed to move from one tragic debacle to another, its domestic wing seemed to redeem the organization, arguably making the RZ the most successful guerilla group active in West Germany. Made up of individuals who lived aboveground and who were rooted in the popular movements of the day, the domestic wing functioned to give armed expression to the broad campaigns of the left. It is virtually impossible to state exactly how many actions were carried out by these militants over the course of some twenty years, but something in the ballpark of one hundred seems a reasonable estimate.

Because of the number of actions claimed, and the fact that these were integrated within broader movements, the RZ’s domestic wing very much defined the organization in the eyes of the left. It is important to note that even amongst those who carried out actions under the RZ’s banner, it is unclear whether or not there was any real connection or understanding of the questionable activities being engaged in at the same time by the organization’s international wing.

The domestic wing’s actions addressed various issues: refugee rights, South African apartheid, West German militarism, unpopular transit fare hikes, the rights of the homeless, Latin America, in short, anything being addressed by the left. And miraculously, all of this occurred with almost no arrests and only one victim who died, Hessen Finance Minister Heinz Herbert Karry, who bled out after being shot in the legs.

However, over the years several members of the RZ’s domestic wing were injured or killed planting bombs that detonated prematurely.

Rote Zora
Like the RZ’s domestic wing, Rote Zora was both extremely successful and very popular.

The group, which took its name from the heroine of a popular children’s book, grew directly out of the RZ. In fact, to all intents and purposes, its first three actions, all of which were directed at West Germany’s then retrograde abortion law, were carried out in March and April 1975 under the rubric of the Women of the Revolutionary Cells. The Revolutionary Cells and Rote Zora would carry out the occasional action together and would issue common theoretical documents, but for the most part Rote Zora would act autonomously, addressing issues important to the women’s movement: abortion rights, trafficking women for sexual purposes, pornography, the exploitation of women in Third World sweatshops, etc.

However, it would be in its campaign against gene and biotechnology that Rote Zora would really establish itself as leading force in West German politics. From the mid-80s onward, the group carried out a series of bombings of companies, research centers and institutions active in these two areas, which Rote Zora felt was laying the basis for a modern form of eugenics. It was a campaign that would develop a deep resonance in the women’s movement at large.

In 1987, Ingrid Strobl, an editor at the influential feminist magazine Emma, and Ulla Pensellin were arrested and charged with membership in both the Revolutionary Cells and Rote Zora, and with planning and preparation of a bomb attack against the Cologne office of Germany’s Lufthansa airlines, in response to its role in the extradition of refugees. Pensellin was released in 1988, while Strobl was sentence to five years in 1989, a sentence that was overturned in 1990, leading to her release.

Like the rest of the RZ structure, Rote Zora would fall into inactivity as a result of the divisive debates that tore through the scene in the early 90s following the revelations about the murder of Albartus.

With the dissolution of the RAF in April 1998, the last of the major armed groups that grew out the student and youth upheaval of the late 60s faded into history. Nonetheless, all of these organizations leave behind a rich legacy from which valuable lessons, both positive and negative, can be drawn.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

[Montreal] Support the Villanueva family!

URGENT : March with the Villanueva family!

The Coalition Against Police Repression and Abuse (CRAP), is joining the Villanueva family in calling for people to come out in big numbers in support of their extremely justified and legitimate demands, this Saturday, February 7th, in Montreal-North.

To all those who are moved by the Villanueva family’s cause, this is the time to come out and show solidarity!

Although the public inquiry, presided over by Judge Robert Sansfaçon, is set to begin in less than two weeks, the Charest government is still refusing to pay the legal fees for the families of the victims of the police intervention at Henri-Bourassa Park this past summer which cost young Fredy Villanueva his life.

The responsibility for the legal fees should not fall to the families of the victims but rather to the government which called for the Sansfaçon inquiry in the first place.

If the government wishes the Sansfaçon inquiry to retain any semblance of credibility in the eyes of the public, they will also need to push back the date of the inquiry to give the families’ lawyers the time to study the case file, which contains over a thousand pages worth of documentation.

Otherwise, the Sansfaçon inquiry will be yet another demonstration of the disproportionnate powers enjoyed by the police, which will be shown by the presence of six publicly funded seasoned lawyers to defend the interest of the police force.

The Sansfaçon inquiry will not shed all the light on the death of Fredy Villanueva by using a police blue bulb !

Come out and support the Villanueva family’s just and legitimate demands!

* Meeting at Henri-Bourassa Park, corner of Pascal and Rolland, Montreal-North, Saturday, February 7th, 1pm. *

contact :

Meaning-Based Translation

if you're like me and you enjoy translation, you may want to check out today's post by Mike Ely on Kasama blog... i thought in particular the discussion of words like "fuck", "con", and "motherfucker" was worth having, though it could of course be taken further...

Quote of the Day: "cops are like doughnuts - they're no good unless they have a hole in the middle"

News today that an armed group is claiming responsibility for attacks on police in Greece:

An unknown Greek group has threatened to indiscriminately kill police officers and expand its target list to include prominent members of society.

The Sect of Revolutionaries issued the warning on a CD left on the grave of a teenager who was shot by police in December, triggering a month of riots.

Police said the declaration, which was published in a Greek newspaper on Thursday, appeared to be genuine.

The group also said it had attacked a police station in Athens on Tuesday.

Shots were fired at the station in the suburb of Korydallos, causing some damage but no injuries. A hand grenade was also thrown, but it failed to explode.

Last month, a policeman was shot and seriously wounded in central Athens. The attack was claimed by another better-known group, Revolutionary Struggle.


The proclamation by the Sect of Revolutionaries was published on Thursday morning in the newspaper, Ta Nea, just as a gas bomb exploded outside the political office of the public order ministry.

The cops are like doughnuts - they're no good unless they have a hole in the middle
Sect of Revolutionaries

In it, the group said the armed attack on the police station in Korydallos had been in retaliation for the alleged murder by police of 15-year-old Alexis Grigoropoulos.

It claimed its members had been "unlucky" not to kill a police officer during the pre-dawn assault, which many had blamed on Revolutionary Struggle.

"Our aim was to execute them," the statement said. "Next time they will not have luck on their side."

From now on, the group warned, the life of a police officer would be worth as much as a bullet.

"The cops are like doughnuts - they're no good unless they have a hole in the middle," it said. "Start handing in your resignations, otherwise we will start measuring graves."

A police spokesman said it was taking the statement seriously.

"It seems to be genuine," Panayiotis Stathis told the Associated Press. "It's a group that has not appeared before but the methodology seems to be the same as that of Revolutionary Struggle."

Police protests

The BBC's Malcolm Brabant in Athens says the desire for vengeance on behalf of the Sect of Revolutionaries and Revolutionary Struggle is worrying the police unions.

Greek police protest against attacks (15 January 2009)
Greek police have protested against the repeated attacks of recent months

They have held demonstrations protesting against the violence, saying there are human beings behind the uniforms who are just as poorly paid as the average Greek.

Our correspondent says the militant groups appear to be modelling themselves on European urban guerrilla organisations from the 1970s, such as the German Red Army Faction.

The Sect of Revolutionaries also warned that prominent Greeks, including capitalists, state functionaries and journalists, would be targeted soon.

After three serious attacks on police in the past 40 days, officers are becoming stressed and understandably nervous, our correspondent adds.

On Wednesday, a policeman working near the US embassy shot and seriously injured a guard outside the ambassador's residence. The officer is reported to have claimed that he thought he was going to be shot.

Ville9 mtl-nord (Fredy Villanueva)

Local musicians respond to last summer's police murder of Fredy Villanueva...

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

The Crisis Is Here

We have entered a new stage of struggle, a new moment of possibility and danger.

Western Europe is in the news; Iceland's government has fallen, hundreds of thousands from across the political spectrum shut down France for a day, and now a wave of wildcat strikes is giving England's government a much-deserved kick in the teeth.

Lets not fool ourselves: if this is news it's because it's Western Europe. It's been two weeks since riots broke out in Lithuania and Bulgaria, with one business publication worrying that Hungary and Estonia might be next. And my morning paper makes no bones about its fear of what might happen next in the highest worldwide concentration of working class misery - the Chinese capitalist tinderbox.

We are just putting our first toe in the waters of this new moment. Time will tell who amongst us actually knows how to swim.

What we can see is that we are entering a time of incredible possibility, where millions of people may not only become rapidly politicized, but may in just the blink of an eye become more militant than the movement we all call home. But nowhere in the world is this fast forward going to automatically occur in a good or progressive or left-wing way - the direction of what has started has yet to be determined.

Take a look at the picture at the top of this posting: hundreds if not thousands of British workers are breaking the law and taking more militant action than many "progressives" have ever done, and they clearly have the support of hundreds of thousands. And yet their demands - sparked by a foreign firm employing Italian and Portuguese workers for cheap wages - are racist: "British Jobs or British Workers." (That's not to say the left should step out of this fight, just to say you'd better not have kid gloves on when you step in the ring, because the odds are against you...)

To grasp what is happening is the task before us. Because what is happening will change all of the equations we've been playing with, will change the dynamics of every struggle, be it copwatch or the environment, political prisoners or sexual violence. But most certainly if we're thinking about antifascism or "anti-poverty" work...

Back in September of last year i complained that there was no one on the left worth listening to about all this. People were just echoing what could be found on the business page of any bourgeois newspaper, or else dusting off their cliches from previous periods of turmoil.

That has changed somewhat, and i'd like to strongly recommend that all of you check out the following texts. They're not as short as most of what you find on the internet, and i doubt anyone will agree with all of what they say, but they do represent some very useful initial takes on where we are and what is happening.

Like flares in the night, that may help show us our way - or reveal the enemy before they are upon us.

Global crisis – Global proletarianisation – Counter-perspectives. This is by Karl-Heinz Roth, a left communist writer (and former political prisoner) from Germany. i found it provided a good historical context for what is happening, but i was very unconvinced by the "programmatic utopianism" in its section on what is to be done. Probably the most dry of the pieces i am recommending.

Navigating the Storm: A Strategic Orientation for Confronting the Advance of Reaction and National Oppression in the "Obama" Era by Kali Akuno of the Malcolm X Grossroots Movement. This text, written in October and drawing on observations by Mike Davis, deals heavily with the Obama presidency that was being prepared for at that time. i have reservations (again) with the programmatic aspects Akuno suggests, but the text is worth reading as it helps to frame some of the subsequent discussion:

Navigating the Storm: Reprise, also by Kali Akuno. A useful reappraisal of his initial Navigating the Storm piece, again with a focus on the Obama presidency and class dynamics within the united states that may make it less useful for those of us outside of the u.s.- nevertheless, definitely worth reading.

Thinking and Acting in Real Time and A Real World by Don Hammerquist. An excellent survey of the field before us, Hammerquist discusses Akuno's Navigating the Storm piece and also texts by the Midnight Notes collective and Adam Hanieh of Left Turn magazine.

The above texts are just starters... i haven't made my way through it all, but i Akuno has a blog (Navigating the Storm) devoted to what is unfolding - i've added it to the most prominent links on Sketchy Thoughts.

& meanwhile, because it is in the news today, and does show exactly what we can expect more of:

Fax and phone campaign to support Herman Bell & Jalil Muntaqim

Jalil Muntaqim and Herman Bell

Damn! i missed my call yesterday... guess i'll have to make one today!

People in the campaign to free the San Francisco 8 are asking us all to call New York governor David Patterson every Monday of February to state your support for returning Herman Bell and Jalil Muntaqim to New York for their parole hearings, as a practical way to celebrate Black History Month.

Makes sense to me, as the continued imprisonment of Muntaqim and Bell is an ongoing travesty of justice, one of historical significance no doubt. So pick up the phone and do your bit...

For more information about this case, see the post i made about Jalil Muntaqim a couple of days ago...


To all celebrating Black History Month:

Black History Month is a time to not only celebrate, educate and embrace Afrikan contributions, but a time to continue upholding the legacy of our unsung Afrikan heroes, many of whom sacrificed a great deal in the times of the Civil Rights and Black Liberation Movements.

1,000’s of Afrikan people have been held captive as Political Prisoners or Prisoners of War for holding America responsible for its injustices.

Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, Kwame Ture and Huey P. Newton were all incarcerated for political reasons.

Many of the men and women who stood beside the civil rights and black liberation heroes of yesterday are still incarcerated today.

Jalil Muntaqim and Herman Bell (of the San Francisco 8) are two of many who sacrificed so much during the Civil Rights and Black Liberation Movements.

Both have been held captive since the early 1970’s. Jalil and Herman are being denied of their right of parole hearings because neither the California nor New York Governor will act on their request to be transferred to NY in order to work on their parole hearings.

“Phone for Parole!” every Monday during Black History Month

Let us commemorate Black History Month by simply calling or faxing for the immediate transporting of Jalil Muntaqim and Herman Bell for parole hearings.

“Phone for Parole!” every Monday during Black History Month

Please look at the attached letter for more details on this injustice. Feel free to use it as a basis for your fax or phone call.

Free the SF 8!!

Honorable David A. Paterson
Governor of the State of New York
State Capitol
Albany, NY 12224
FAX: 1-518-474-1513, 1-518-474-3767
phone: 518-474-8390

February, 2009

Dear Governor Paterson:

I call upon you to immediately approve the already agreed upon
transfer of Herman Bell and Anthony Bottom (aka Jalil Muntaqim), back to New York State custody to attend their parole hearings.

Mr. Bell and Mr. Bottom have been languishing in the San Francisco County Jail for over two years. Their case is at least four months away from preliminary hearings, but red tape continues to block the implementation of their transfer.

The San Francisco County Jail does not have the proper facilities or capacity to hold people for an extended period of time, and two years in sub-standard living conditions, woefully limited visits and little to no access to proper medical care or activities has had devastating effects on Mr. Bell and Mr. Bottom and their families.

Both of these men have been incarcerated for over 35 years and are model prisoners. Their return to New York State is essential in
order for them to be present for crucial parole hearings. It is
unfair and cruel to deny them this right.

Additionally, Mr. Bottom has submitted a fully documented application to you for clemency/commutation of his New York sentence. Please do not allow Mr. Bottom's custody in California to lessen the urgency of
acting on his compelling case.

Please act now to end this injustice.


(Print Name)