The following from author Gabriel Kuhn, via his PM Press page:
Sometimes you experience the ultimate anti-climax. With three PM Press books released these months, I had been planning for about a year to come for an extended speaking tour to North America this spring. A couple of months ago, I started planning this more concretely. The anarchist bookfairs in San Francisco, New York, and Montreal provided general reference points, and I got in touch with many wonderful people who helped schedule events in twenty US states and two Canadian provinces. I was also looking forward to the trip on a personal level: I have been traveling to the US regularly since I was nine years old, did part of my schooling there, and meant to visit many dear friends. Admittedly, I was worried about immigration, as I've had problems before – one reason why I haven't visited in five years – but I figured I'll come well prepared. Little did I know that the recently introduced Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) would make it impossible for someone matching an entry on the US government's No Fly List (also known as the Terrorist Watch List) to even board a plane. I considered the process a mere formality, and it actually took me a week to check the outcome of my application. So when the words "Travel Not Authorized" appeared on my computer screen, I instantly thought of a mistake. Certainly I must have missed a letter or digit in my application form. I checked the records. I hadn't missed anything. Nonetheless, I applied again. It only took a few hours to receive another rejection.
Now, here is one thing about the No Fly List: in the name of national security, it is virtually impossible to receive any information about it. Not why your name is on it, not since when, not what you can do to get off the list – in fact, you won't even know whether it's really your name or whether your name matches that of some other "terrorist" suspect. However, after speaking to embassy staff, a mix-up is unlikely in this case. Once it had sunk in that my name was on the list, I had a pretty clear understanding of where the origins of this lay.
When I arrived in the US the last time, in 2005, I was held for seven hours at Philadelphia Airport. First, the stamps of Arab countries in my passport had raised suspicion, then some organizations in my address book, then the literature in my backpack. The immigration officers deemed it necessary to call in an FBI anti-terrorist agent. We went through a pretty ridiculous interrogation, with some other agents storming in at some point, frantically demanding that I get up and put my hands against the wall – apparently, they had found a weapon in my luggage: a camping knife. Once they understood that I had no other "weapons" on me, they relaxed, and I was allowed to continue with the interrogation in relative peace. Eventually, the frustrated FBI agent said, "Now I know why you've studied philosophy – so you can answer all my questions without saying anything." I felt like I had done well. Then he recommended that I return to Europe voluntarily on the next flight. That way I could "get my papers in order" (I had no papers that weren't in order) and "reapply" for entry to the US – otherwise I'd be removed forcefully, which would automatically imply a five-year ban. I told him that if I was to be removed forcefully there was little I could do (after all, the agents had far more serious weapons than me), but that I certainly hadn't taken an eight-hour flight to Philadelphia to voluntarily turn around and fly back. Since his bluff didn't work, the agent was in a bit of trouble: at the time, I still had a valid B1/B2 visa issued by the US embassy in Vienna in the late 1990s, which meant that a report had to be filed if I was to be removed. Since none of the agent's suspicions – in the end focusing on Earth Liberation Front connections – were based on anything substantial, there was nothing substantial to base a report on either. Grudgingly, I was allowed to enter, although the duration of my stay was severely limited – basically, the officers in charge did what they could within their means to spoil my visit. This was sold to me as generosity.
As I left the country within the time I had been given, I thought this incident would have no further consequences. As things stand now, though, it must have earned me a spot in the Terrorist Watch List. The agent got his way after all.
If you are denied authorization to travel to the US through ESTA, you can still apply for a visa at a US embassy. However, three things have to be considered: 1. Unless you are convinced that your case is obviously one of mistaken identity, it is unlikely to be granted. 2. Even if it is granted, it will take a long time, as you'll have to undergo special security screening. 3. Even if you end up getting a visa, it will have been issued by State Department employees – Department of Homeland Security agents might still turn you away upon arrival. Under these circumstances, it became impossible for me to continue planning my tour (which was to start in a month), and I had to cancel. Luckily, the support I've received from friends and organizers in the US since then has been fantastic, and some of the events I had planned will still happen – others are stepping in as speakers, web conferences have been offered, etc. It's like the saying goes: you can ban people but not ideas.
In the long run, I could fight my inclusion in the No Fly List, but I'm not really inclined to do so. It is a time-consuming, costly, and personally compromising affair, and, despite my sadness and disappointment, this individual case is far from tragic: I have a comfortable life in Sweden, I can travel to numerous other countries, etc. What's really worrying are the far bigger problems that this case is an indication of: 1. The complex of immigration and anti-terrorism legislation, which for many people means separation from loved ones, exclusion from educational and economic possibilities, and at times persecution, imprisonment, and death. 2. The fact that in the name of "national security" means of surveillance and repression have been put into place that are entirely secretive and non-transparent – the possible implications of this are evident and very frightening. 3. The fact that institutions like the No Fly List not only trample on the rights of US citizens, but leave non-US citizens with no rights to fight them at all. If applied systematically, this could severely undermine communication, exchange, and networking of activists and social movements. If this particular case can help draw some attention to these issues, at least it serves a purpose.
Many thanks to everyone who's shown so much support over the last couple of months and the last few days! I'll see you all sometime somewhere!
Friday, January 29, 2010
The following from author Gabriel Kuhn, via his PM Press page:
Thursday, January 28, 2010
It has been just four months since Ojore Lutalo left the prison gates, "free" after over a quarter century behind bars. A combatant with the Black Liberation Army, Lutalo (like so many other POWs and political prisoners) had been subjected to isolation-torture, an attempted depivation of all social contacts meant to drive a person insane. Yet throughout it all he remained steadfast.
Just so recently released, this past weekend Lutalo was in Los Angeles, attending the LA Anarchist Bookfair, and speaking on a panel about political prisoners in the united states. A rarity in a movement that was predominantly Marxist-Leninist, Lutalo has been an anarchist for decades, and his leadership from behind bars was in fact instrumental in bringing together many anarchists to do PP/POW support work in the 1980s and 1990s.
On his return home from LA, something happened. In La Junta, Colorado, Lutalo's Amtrak train was stopped and police boarded to arrest him, charging him with "interfering with public transportation." Nobody - including Lutalo himself - had any idea what provoked this arrest, or what the implications might be.
This morning Lutalo was arraigned in the La Junta City Courthouse, and formally charged. Bond was set at $30,000. At the arraignment, the prosecutor claimed that two people on the train overheard a telephone call in which they believe Ojore "made terroristic threats."
The prosecution asked for a $50,000 bond citing Lutalo's previous "criminal" background and imprisonment as well as him being an out of state resident. The defense argued for a $1,000 bond citing Ojore's links to the Denver community and housing available to him as well as his previous imprisonment being politically biased.
The judge ruled that Ojore's bond would be set at $30,000, justifying this amount because Ojore is an out of state resident, and in 1982 Ojore was convicted of a failure to appear charge and presently posed a flight risk due to this history.
Denver Anarchist Black Cross Federation members were present for the hearing and are presently in La Junta working to bail him out. A bondsmen has been secured that will post bond for Ojore at the cost of $3,010.
Donations can be sent via paypal to: timABCF@aol.com
To keep in the loop, email MapachinABC@gmail.com
Please forward to anyone that needs or wants an update, so we can get some
Jan. 29th UPDATE: OJORE IS OUT, BUT IN NEED OF FUNDS!
From the Anarchist Black Cross Federation:
As of 9:30pm Mountain Time, Ojore is out and on his way to Denver. Thanks to everyone that helped make that possible.
Bond was posted at the cost of $4,500. This cost has been fronted by
various amazing folks from across the country,
but much of this money is being loaned. Ojore is in major need of
donations to help pay these loans back!
The Philadelphia Anarchist Black Cross Federation is accepting donations
for this effort. Donations can be sent via paypal to: timABCF@aol.com
Ojore's court date will be February 5th.
In 2003 this video interview was produced with Ojore by comrades from the Anarchist Black Cross Federation; you can view it here:
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
On January 21st WBAI's Where We Live featured an hour devoted to the legacy of Safiya Bukhari, specifically the recently published book of her writings, The War Before.
Hosts Sally O'Brien and Dequi Kioni-Sadiki talk with Safiya Bukhari's daughter; Wonda Jones, former political prisoner, writer and activist, Laura Whitehorn and Panther Sister Pam Hanna. There's also a rare audio clip of Safiya herself!
To hear the show, click here.
The War Before: The True Life Story of Becoming a Black Panther, Keeping the Faith in Prison, and Fighting for Those Left BehindBlack Liberation Army member, vice-president of the Republic of New Afrika, prisoner of war, comrade, activist, mother, grandmother.
Safiya Bukhari was all of these things and many more during her time. When she died on August 24, 2003, she was only 53 years old. The veteran of a war undeclared and unacknowledged, waged within and outside of the borders of the u.s.a. -- a war unfinished -- a war for liberation.
Bukhari's was a life of work, and in the years after her release from prison she was known as a tireless advocate for those comrades who remained behind bars, amerika's political prisoners and prisoners of war. She was not a "writer" and like many, spent years ambivalent and suspicious of the place of theory in struggle. As she wrote in 2002, at a university conference on "imprisoned intellectuals":
"Intellectual" had always carried the connotation of being a theorist, an armchair revolutionary, if you will. Therefore, the idea of being seen as an intellectual was anathema to me. I had always thought of myself as an activist, an on-the-ground worker who practiced rather than preached.
The conference forced me to face a reality. I was there because I had spent some time in prison writing and thinking. Thinking and writing. Trying to put on paper some cogent ideas that might enable others to understand why I did some of the things that I had done and the process that had brought me/us to the polint we were at. I had also come to the conclusion that if we didn't write the truth of what we had done and believed, someone else would write his or her version of the truth.
If we can't write/draw a blueprint of what we are doing while we are doing it, or before we do it, then we must at least write our history and point out the truth of what we did - the good, the bad, and the ugly.
In the spirit of these words, in the time since her death Bukhari's daughter Wonda Jones, former political prisoner Laura Whitehorn, and other friends and comrades have worked to collect some of Bukhari's writings from over the years, to help pass on the lessons and thoughts of this comrade to future generations. This book -- with contributions by Jones and Whitehorn, as well as Angela Davis and Mumia Abu-Jamal -- has been published by the Feminist Press and CUNY, and is now available for purchase from a variety of sources, including Kersplebedeb's leftwingbooks.net. This is an important book, containing the classic autobiographical Coming of Age: A Black Revolutionary, as well as essays on sexism in the movement, Islam and revolution, the emotional/psychological toll of repression, and many on the struggles to free political prisoners that she led during her last years.
Comrades in Montreal are planning on organizing a book launch in the weeks to come (details to be posted here), but in the meantime a whole slew of launches and book events have been organized across the united states. A partial list follows:
Book Launches and Events for The War Before
NEW YORK CITY:
- Monday, February 1st, 7:00 pm -- Barnes & Noble, Broadway at 82nd St., Manhattan -- “Black Women, Black Freedom” – Celebrating “The War Before” and “Want to Start a Revolution? Radical Women in the Black Freedom Struggle,” with Wonda Jones, Laura Whitehorn, Dayo Gore, and Komozi Woodard. Free. (http://store-locator.barnesandnoble.com/event/3020723)
- Wednesday, February 3, 6:00-9:00 pm -- Launch party for “The War Before” and celebration of Safiya Bukhari -- hosted by the Center for Women’s Empowerment at Medgar Evers College, 1650 Bedford Ave., Brooklyn, Rm. B-1008, with Wonda Jones, Pam Africa, Safiya Bandele, Cleo Silvers, Robyn Spencer, and others. Free.
- Friday, February 5, 7:00 pm -- Bluestockings bookstore, 172 Allen Street, Manhattan, with Joan Gibbs, Laura Whitehorn, Bullwhip (Cyril Innis), Paulette D’Auteuil, and others. Free. (http://bluestockings.com/events/)
- Saturday, February 13, 7:00 pm -- celebration of Safiya Bukhari and “The War Before” at the Brecht Forum, 451 West Street, Manhattan, with Wonda Jones, Cleo Silvers, Bullwhip, Dequi Kioni-Sadiki, Laura Whitehorn, and others. http://brechtforum.org/events/war-true-life-story-safiya-bukhari (sliding scale: $6/$10/$15; free for Brecht subscribers)
- Saturday, Sunday, March 20-21 at the Left Forum, Pace University, 1 Pace Plaza, Manhattan – workshop with Cleo Silvers, Vikki Law, Asha Bandele and Susie Day, date/time TBD (http://leftforum.org/node/63)
- Thursday, February 18, 7:00 pm at Porter Square Books, Porter Square Shopping Center, 25 White Street, Cambridge, MA 02140 (http://www.portersquarebooks.com/event/laura-whitehorn-war)
- Thursday, February 25 7 pm, Red Emma’s Bookstore, 800 St. Paul St. (http://www.redemmas.org/event/1778/)
- Thursday, March 11 with Yuri Kochiyama, Billy X Jennings, Claude Marks and others; at Freedom Archives, 513 Valencia Street, San Francisco, CA 94110
- Friday, March 12, 7:00 pm with Vikki Law at The Green Arcade bookstore, 1680 Market Street @Gough, San Francisco CA 94102
- Saturday/Sunday, March 13-14 with Vikki Law at the Bay Area Anarchist Book Fair, SF County Fair Building, Golden Gate Park (all day; time of panel TBD) http://sfbookfair.wordpress.com/schedule/
- Saturday, March 13 Yuri Kochiyama, Jewelle Gomez, Susan Rosenberg, Linda Evans, Laura Whitehorn, others, at Sparks Fly! benefit for political prisoner Marilyn Buck
JERSEY CITY, NJ:
- Saturday evening, April 3 Black Waxx Studios (280 1st Street, 2nd Floor), Laura Whitehorn, with musical artists Melanie Dyer and others. A Scientific Soul Session on “womyn and revolution.”
Monday, January 25, 2010
What a weekend!
Our web host got hacked last week, and as a response they changed the way dynamic websites could display. Which meant that the Kersplebedeb site basically went down last Tuesday, and is only up and running again today.
Please accept my apologies for any inconvenience. (& believe me, from my end, this was pretty fucking inconvenient!)
Monday, January 04, 2010
Forum Against Police Violence and Impunity
January 29-31, 2010
Centre communautaire de Parc-Extension
419 rue St-Roch (métro Parc)
FREE. Welcome to all!
(No police, no corporate media)
Childcare available on-site.
Not completely wheelchair accessible;
please get in touch with access needs.
Friday, January 29, 6pm-9pm
Saturday, January 30, 10am-9pm
Sunday, January 31, 10am-6pm
The Forum Against Police Violence and Impunity is a Montreal-based collaborative effort by grassroots social justice activists and community organizers to create a space that will allow for discussion, sharing experiences, and developing strategies in the on-going struggle to live free of police violence.
The most effective way to combat police harassment, profiling and violence is by building meaningful relationships of solidarity and mutual aid in our various campaigns and struggles. Together, we hope to strengthen our movements against police violence and impunity in the here and now, while simultaneously working towards building a future society without police violence.
WHAT IS THE FORUM?:
The Forum will aim to reach out to various groups of people through different formats, including film screenings, musical & spoken-word performances, hands-on skill-sharing sessions, workshops, panel discussions and testimonials.
The following activities, among others, will take place during the Forum:
- Round-table: No Justice, No Peace -- Why People Leave the Police
- Panel: A people’s history of police repression against social movements in Montreal
- “Know your rights” workshop
- Workshop: “At Risk” Youth: At risk from whom? Police profiling of street youth and youth of colour
- "Rude Awakening": Interactive theatre presentation about police violence against people who use drugs
- Skillshare workshop: Writing our rhymes down
- Panel: Never again! Families speak out against police killings and impunity
- Workshop: The gender of police violence
- Skillshare workshop: Making film
- Skillshare workshop: Stenciling & Wheatpasting 101
- Strategizing session: Taking care of our communities: Justice without Police
For the COMPLETE SCHEDULE visit:
HOW TO GET INVOLVED?: Endorse the Forum … Promote the Forum … Meet with us … Tell us how you would like to be involved … Contribute ... Volunteer. More details available here: http://forumcontrelaviolencepoliciere.wordpress.com/how-to-get-involved
DOWNLOADS: Colour and black&white posters for the Forum Against Police Violence and Impunity are available for download here: http://forumcontrelaviolencepoliciere.wordpress.com/telechargementsdownloads
The Forum Against Police Violence and Impunity is endorsed by:
Action Santé Travesti(e)s et Transsexuel(le)s du Québec (ASTTeQ) * Alfie Roberts Institute * Apatrides Anonymes * Artivistic * Centre des femmes d'ici et d'ailleurs * Citizens' Committee of Park Extension * CKUT (90.3FM) * Coalition contre la repression et les abus policiers (CRAP) * Coalition Justice pour Anas * Collectif opposé à la brutalité policière (COBP) * Groupe de recherche d'intérêt public de l'UQÀM (GRIP-UQÀM) * Head & Hands * Immigrant Workers Centre (IWC) * Jeunesse 2000 * Kabataang Montréal (KM) * McGill Anti-Racist Coalition (MARC) * Missing Justice Collective * Montréal-Nord Républik * Mothers and Grandmothers for Life and Justice * No One Is Illegal-Montreal * Prisoner Correspondence Project * People’s Commission Network * Project X * Q-Team * Quebec Association for the Advocacy and Inclusion of Drug Users (ADDICQ) * Quebec Public Interest Research Group (QPIRG)-Concordia * Quebec Public Interest Research Group (QPIRG)-McGill * reclaim! (radical environmentalists concerned about the lack of anti-capitalist ideas in the movement) * School of Community and Public Affairs (Concordia) * Solidarity Across Borders * Winnipeg Copwatch