Perhaps no other single issue so convincingly illustrates the struggle for total liberation, as does the prison industrial complex. Resisting prisons is resisting state repression and blatant social control; it is resisting the most terrifying examples of racism, sexism, and homophobia, the criminalization of the poor and capitalist exploitation of labor. For this reason, the Break the Chains conference hopes to exemplify the need for continued and heightened prisoner support with our ultimate goal being prison abolition. Prison abolition is a political vision that seeks to eliminate the need for prisons and acknowledges the devastating effect that prisons have on poor and marginalized communities. |
Wide ranges of folks have agreed to attend and share their knowledge, including former prisoners. Organizations attending include Free Mumia Coalition, Prison Legal News, and Out of Control Lesbian Committee to Support Women in Prison. There will be people working with prisoners that are HIV/AIDS infected and Black Panther and American Indian Movement elders, as well as a participant in the Attica rebellion of the 70's.
Any movement that does not support its political internees is a movement destined to fail. When power is challenged, it inevitably turns to violent repression and imprisonment to maintain itself. In order to avoid defeat, movements must become organized and capable of combating the repression of the state apparatus, and they must be able to support their comrades and allies in the event that they are arrested or imprisoned. Few would commit themselves to a movement that would leave them behind prison walls, or a movement that is incapable of sustaining itself in the face of state intimidation. To find out how you can help out at the conference, contact us at P.O. Box 11331, Eugene Oregon 97440 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Other Groups working on prisoner support:
The following individuals have agreed to participate in this conference:
Rita "Bo" Brown
Former political prisoner of the George Jackson Brigades, founder of the Out of Control Lesbian Committee to Support Women in Prison, Prison Activist Resource Center community advisor, and regional representative of the Eddie Hatcher Defense Committee.
Safiya is a former Black Panther and Black Liberation Army member who spent close to nine years in prison for clandestine actions on behalf of the BLA. Now the co-chair of the New York City Free Mumia Coalition and an international organizer of the Jericho Movement, she continues to struggle to free hundreds of political prisoners of war and to fight for liberation. Chrystos
Chrystos is a self-educated writer as well as an artist who designs the covers of her own books. Her work as a Native land and treaty rights activist has been widely recognized and the political aspect is an essential part of her writing - even though she refuses to be taken as a "voice" of Native women or as a "spiritual leader." She is also working toward freedom for imprisoned Indian activists Leonard Peltier. The other dominant aspect of her work is lesbianism, which is outspoken and personalized in her "love-and-lust" poems.
Native American author, activist, and all around ass-kicker. Ward is a former chairperson of the Leonard Peltier Defense Committee, veteran American Indian Movement [AIM] activist, and author, co-author or editor of over a dozen books about Native American struggles for liberation, movement strategy, the politics of imprisonment, COINTELPRO & state repression.
Dacajeweiah/Splitting the Sky
From a background of orphanages and boarding schools, Dacajeweiah emerged as a principal leader of the Attica rebellion at the age of nineteen, and later became a major figure with the American Indian Movement. He was the founder of the League of Indigenous Sovereign Nations of the Western Hemisphere, has been involved in numerous armed standoffs with the Canadian and US authorities, and after decades of poverty, imprisonment, and repression, he continues to agitate for Native sovereignty and prisoner's rights.
Derrick is the author of A Language Older Than Words, and more recently The Culture of Make Believe. He taught creative writing for three years at Pelican Bay State Prison.
Claude is the Project Director of The Freedom Archives, a political, cultural oral history project in San Francisco. He is a former political prisoner who served time for a conspiracy to break two Puerto Rican and Black political prisoners out of Leavenworth. Claude taught ESL, literacy, writing and history inside. Under his direction, The Freedom Archives has developed a youth training curriculum and has released several recent documentary CDs and videos combining restored historical audio and contemporary interviews. The videos focus on Jalil Muntaqim, David Gilbert and Nuh Washington and a recent CD, Prisons on Fire, focuses on George Jackson and the Attica Rebellion. Claude remains a prison activist and uses media to educate, advocate for prison abolition and the freeing of all political prisoners.
Former political prisoner of the George Jackson Brigades, the co-founder of Prison Legal News, organizer of Men Against Sexism (a group that militantly opposed sexism, racism, homophobia and rape) inside the walls of the Washington State Penitentiary at Walla Walla, and the founder of the Prison Art Project. Ed spent 18 years behind bars as a result of his participation in the GJB-related activities.
Craig was a former spokesperson for the Earth Liberation Front, a group categorized by the FBI as the number one domestic terrorism threat in the United States. He survived seven grand jury investigations, two raids by federal agents on his home and business, and a Congressional subpoena. A political activist since 1990, Craig left the ELF press office in 2001 to advocate the need for more strategic and directed action against the US political system. He co-founded Arissa in 2003, an effort to build a revolutionary movement in the USA.
Co-founder and North American Coordinator of the Irish Republican Socialist Party. Attending every Ard Fheis (national congress) of the IRSP since 1984, he was appointed the IRSP's International Department Co-Secretary in 2000, a position he still holds. In 2003, he will organize the FIRSCA, an organization for IRSP support groups throughout the world. Peter is an expert on Irish resistance movements and Irish political prisoners.
Revolutionary anti-imperialist who spent 14 years in federal prison as a political prisoner. Her "offense" was to conspire to protest and change U.S. government policies, domestic and international, with acts of armed struggle (the "resistance conspiracy" case). She currently works toward the release of all the remaining political prisoners in U.S. prisons. A lesbian, she is an associate editor at POZ, a national magazine for those affected by HIV.
Also participating, representatives from groups such as