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Anarchists Settle Oregon Department of Corrections Repression Suit

Oregon Anarchist's federal lawsuit against the Oregon Department of Corrections (ODOC) has been settled by compromise.
COMBAT
FIGHT, CONTEND: To struggle or work against: OPPOSE

Dispatch 104
For Immediate Release

Anarchists Settle Oregon Department of Corrections Repression Suit

Salem, Oregon - 22 April, 2003 - Oregon Anarchist's federal lawsuit against the Oregon Department of Corrections (ODOC) has been settled by compromise.

Filed pro se by Anarchist prisoner Brian McCarvill, personally, and on behalf of others similarly situated, versus Ben DeHaan, Acting Director ODOC; Mike Beagen, Inspector, Security Threat Groups, ODOC; Jacy Duran, Central Mail Rule Administrator; and seven other ODOC employees, McCarvill v DeHaan et al, USDC OR, Case No. 02-1167-KI, was settled by contractual compromise on April 22, 2003. The Lawsuit alleged that the ODOC was unconstitutionally rejecting Anarchist and other publications, simply on the basis that they portrayed the Anarchist circle-A symbol, the Anarchist Black Cross symbol, the Anarchist Black Flag, and the terms "Anarchism" and "Anarchist", without any substantive review towards determining whether or not the rejected publications constituted an actual "security threat" or "detriment" to Oregon prison facilities.

The lawsuit further alleged that Anarchists were being unconstitutionally "documented" (ODOC's verbiage) as a "gang" and a "security threat group" (STG), a documentation that allowed ODOC to characterize Anarchist symbols as "STG Paraphernalia." The Oregon mail rule, OAR 291-131, contained a provision that allowed ODOC to reject mail and publications for displaying "STG Paraphernalia." Plaintiff contended that ODOC had unconstitutionally constructed a shortcut - the simple appearance of an Anarchist symbol - means of rejecting mail and publications that ran afoul of even state-friendly Thornburgh v Abbott, 490 US 401 (1989).

The lawsuit further alleged that ODOC had an unconstitutional pattern and practice of rejecting Anarchist mail and publications for "unrecognized publisher," on an ad hoc basis, for Anarchist publications only; as well as mischaracterizing Anarchist zines as magazines and / or pamphlets, at will, depending upon which classification would earn the zine a rejection.

After conducting massive amounts of written discovery, the parties agreed to settle the dispute by contractual compromise. Plaintiff attributes ODOC's willingness to settle to a combination of the massive amount of support from the Oregon, US, UK and Eire, Anarchist diaspora, in the form of affidavits, declarations, and positive statements. The Anarchist Prisoners' Legal Aid Network (APLAN) of Portland Oregon provided financial, moral and campaign support from the beginning, allowing the initial filing and prosecution of the lawsuit. Break the Chains prisoner support Anarchist collective of Eugene Oregon, and the Anarchist Black Cross Network of Austin Texas, rounded out collective organizational support for Plaintiff. Green Anarchist newspaper of London England, Green Anarchy collective of Eugene Oregon, and Mishap zine of Eugene Oregon, all provided in depth position statements. Individual Anarchists from everywhere contributed, and continue to contribute, documentation in favor of Plaintiff's position.

In the course of prosecuting the lawsuit, Plaintiff and his cellmate, Anarchist Rob los Ricos, were placed in Disciplinary Segregation at Oregon State Penitentiary, for "unauthorized organization I". Both individuals earned 120 days "hole time" for their efforts. Almost all of the written discovery was conducted from the DSU environment despite ODOC's intent to hinder. As part of the settlement agreement, Plaintiff agreed not to divulge the terms of the agreement without ODOC permission. Negotiations as to what can be divulged by Plaintiff are currently taking place. However, in an April 13, 2003 communication to Plaintiff, los Ricos stated:

"Just before lights out, correctional officer Birch [ODOC STG] came by for a chat. He says you're about to win your lawsuit... It looks like they are in the process of re-writing the mail rules, so that we can have most anarchist literature regardless of circle-A's."

The compromise settlement gives Plaintiff and similarly situated persons the relief that they could reasonably have expected from the US District Court. Being a contractual compromise, the settlement is revocable should one or the other of the parties default from the agreement. There were no monetary damages sought in the lawsuit.

The success of Plaintiff and similarly situated persons here provides twenty-first century proof of the viability of the viability of the decentralized, individualist, and collective Anarchist ideal. Viva la revolucion!


23 April Brian McCarvill
51st Volunteers


Combat is an open forum. Takes and discussion on the foregoing dispatch are not only welcome but encouraged. Dispatches are encouraged from the front lines everywhere in the revolutionary diaspora, on any subject that is calculated to move the revolution forward. Please write:
Brian McCarvill 11037967
Oregon State Penitentiary
2605 State Street
Salem, OR 97310

address: address: 818 SW 3rd Ave PMB 354 / Portland, OR 97204

Right on, this is a major victory!!!! 29.Apr.2003 22:11

Potential future political prisoner

This is a huge victory and a testament to the importance of outside support campaigns for prisoner's human rights. We now have a window of opportunity to get a ton more radical and educational literature into the prisons - lets not squander this historic opening, if you have cool zines now is the time to mail them. Radical publications are weapons in the hands of imprisoned activists, they will now doubt be passed around and will help contribute to the political conciousness of the general population. Great work everyone!!
Do any prison activists out there want to post addresses of radical prisoners to send lit to??? breakthechains.org seems like it might be a good place to look.

Additional info 30.Apr.2003 15:15

Anarchist Prisoners' Legal Aid Network weneversleep@ziplip.com

Yes, now is absolutely the time to flood the prisons with radical publications. The Break the Chains website is a good place to start for addresses - they have profiles of Oregon political prisoners at:
 http://www.breakthechains.net/prisoners/index.html
(Note that the website is .net, not .org as stated in the previous comment)
For those who can only send materials to a couple of people, I would suggest sending stuff to Brian McCarvill and also Robert Thaxton, #12112716 at Oregon State Penitentiary (same address as Brian).
It still is far from certain that publications that do not come direct from publisher will get through, but it is worth a try.
If anything sent is rejected, or if you would like to get the addresses of other Oregon prisoners who would like publications, please contact APLAN.

818 SW 3rd Ave PMB 354 / Portland, OR 97204