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Three Statements to the Break the Chains Conference

The Break the Chains conference will be held Aug.8-10 at University of Oregon in Eugene. Here are statements from radical prisoners Thomas Meyer-Falk, James Rio Johnson and John Two-Names to the conference.
The Break the Chains conference will be held Aug.8-10 at University of Oregon in Eugene. It is dedicated to fighting repression, supporting prisoners, and eliminating prisons altogether. By providing anti-prison education, building on existing prisoner support efforts, learning from veteran prison activists, and initiating new campaigns against the prison industrial complex, this conference is intended to initiate a new era of heightened prisoner support and anti-prison activism.

For more information about the conference, including our full mission statement and a list of speakers / participants, see:  http://www.breakthechains.net/btcconference/index.html

Below are three statements from prisoners to the conference.

Thomas Meyer-Falk
Statement to the Break the Chains Conference
[Thomas is a German anarchist Redskin (antiracist skinhead) imprisoned since 1996 for attempted expropriation of funds from a capitalist bank. He will be imprisoned until at least 2010 due to the political nature of his crimes - he was doing it to raise money for anti-fascist activities. Calling the judge a fascist pig in court also added seven months to his time.]
Greetings to all friends and comrades over there -
We are living in an era which began some years ago - people on the inside and outside are living in chains! It is important to focus on the worldwide inhuman and degrading treatment and punishment of convicted people, but we should not forget that the people outside of the prisons have their own chains.
However, if the prisoners, the women and men who fought militantly and were imprisoned for their struggle, are forgotten, the whole left-wing movement will destroy itself. The Break the Chains Conference is a wonderful chance to bring forward the need for continued and heightened prisoner support.
I'm staying in a German prison. I have been kept in solitary for years because they feel that I could escape. But I ask you: is it not the human right of every convict to fight for their freedom? I do not believe in the strategy of cooperation with one's enemy, and I think that the inmates who "cooperate" have lost their human dignity! That is why it is necessary to help them regain their dignity; they must learn that they are part of the revolution, part of a new world - a world which stands for humanity, freedom and living in peace!
Even if there is an ocean between us, my heart and thoughts are with you. Help us, the prisoners, and help yourself so that our children can live in a more peaceful world! In revolt -
Thomas Meyer-Falk
c/o JVA-Z. 3117
Schoenbornstr. 32
D-76646 Bruchsal
Germany

James Rio Johnson
Statement to the Break the Chains Conference
[Rio has been active in anarchist projects since the early '80s. He's doing time for a drug-related homicide, and has fought hard throughout his stay.]
Greetings in the strangulation of our Bosses and Masters, and may we all find love in the ruins of this infamous society of the spectacle.
Hello dear friends, comrades, saboteurs, autonomes and guerillas still at large. My name is James Rio Johnson, AKA "Ajax"; my friends call me variations of the above and the state has given me the offensive moniker of "inmate". Although I'm unfortunately in the clutches of the state's punishment industry dungeons, I'm not some inmate to be made an example of, nor do I subscribe to the Lord of the Flies on a pile of shit mentality of the convict. For the inmate serves his masters by jumping through his hoops like some beaten obedient caged dog, and the convict serves his state masters by enforcing backward criminal codes of racism, and creating petty gangland tyrannies that further oppress those on the inside, keeping everyone divided and thus more easily conquered by ODOC [Oregon Department of Corrections] totalitarian rule.
No, I'm neither convict nor inmate. I'm a prisoner, and an insurrectionist one at that. I'd like to tell you that we not only need your support and encouragement, we also highly appreciate it.
It's the love and support that we get from you that often delivers us from the edge of despair, before our palace torturers give us that final shove. To paraphrase a Situationist wit, "Despair ends where actions begin". Oh dear comrades, how some of our actions on the inside have been an inspiration, equal to those brave acts that landed some of our revolutionary friends in here in the first place.
We've all been pretty busy fighting the good fight by various means. Some of us are Anarchist Prisoners down on Social Crimes, others are Prisoners of War, while many are Political Prisoners whom have to taste the pain of prison because of politically-motivated activities of the Anti-Imperialist, Pro-Native Rights, Eco-Defense, Black Liberation fights, as well as other worthy causes. Whether we are Political Prisoners, Prisoners of War or prisoners getting down with the pigs, we are all Prisoners at War. Please continue to show us support while we fight on these front lines.
Thank you -
James Rio Johnson
#8952263
SRCI
777 Stanton Blvd.
Ontario, OR 97914

John Two-Names (Andy Riendeau):
Statement to the Break the Chains Conference
[John Two Names is a Native American prisoner being held hostage by the state of Alabama. He was incarcerated for charges stemming from the burning down of two white schools and a string of burglaries. He asserts his innocence, and believes his incarceration is in retaliation for his political activism for his People. See  http://www.justicedenied.org/andyriendeau.htm for more details.]
My name is John Two-Names. I am an Indigenous hostage of the Occupational Forces gathered here upon this land. I was asked to share my comments regarding the direction the prisoner support movement should be moving, as well as this event. For me, this is an honor, and I thank those whom have asked for this opportunity.
Regarding the current slave manufacturing system, I must keep in mind that the prison system is merely that which reflects the overall will of the system and Empire which it serves. It is the will of the Empire that it exists, and to try to abolish it without tearing down that which it serves is futile.
Colonization, the process of building and maintaining empires, is directly related to the building of the Prison Industrial Complex. Historically, empires of every shade have been built upon the backs of the colonized, the slaves of the Empire - the US being no exception. This is evidenced from the campaign of genocide launched upon the First Nations of Great Turtle Island, to the theft and importation of Afrikan Peoples. Therefore, if colonization produces imperialism, then decolonization naturally would yield the fruit of freedom.
The US Constitution mandates slavery. It is wrapped in the garb of the 13th Amendment. Chattel slavery no longer being digestible to the public, a new form had to be put into play to maintain the Empire of US. Prison slavery fit such a need as it is tucked carefully away from view of society at large. Out of sight - out of mind.
The prison abolition movement would be making a mistake to ignore history, the continued colonization and the Peoples colonized. After all, the prison system is much greater than that of the concrete and steel walls dotting the land like a cancer. It is the very Empire that enslaves us all - inside and out.
This gathering is a step in the right direction. It is a chance to form a lasting bond, and to step on the path of our liberations together and walk toward freedom.
Andy J2N Riendeau
#193786 Dorm C-2-168
Elmore Corr. Fac.
PO Box 8
Elmore, AL 36025



Break the Chains Housing Message Board
Exchange information about housing needs and available housing for the conference:
 http://pub152.ezboard.com/fbtcrideboardfrm8

Break the Chains Ride Share Message Board
Exchange information about transportation to and from the conference:
 http://pub152.ezboard.com/fbtcrideboardfrm7

homepage: homepage: http://www.breakthechains.net
address: address: BTC / PO Box 11331 / Eugene, OR 97440

The Importance of Supporting Prisoners 28.Jul.2003 05:53

Harold H. Thompson

First, it is important to stress that none of us is immune from arrest and prosecution for any number of alleged crimes. Especially once we have placed ourselves into the eye of the storm of struggle against the masters of capital, who believe their station in life gives them the legitimate power to enslave us in whatsoever form they choose, to use us up, throw us away and profit by the blood and sweat we shed in their wage slave shops, factories and mills of capitalism. Once we step out in any form of protest then the power of the state may fall upon us with unrelenting force. We are subject to arrest and imprisonment at any time, most of us, simply because we choose to be who we are because we want to live the lives we choose in spite of the plans others make for us, because we dare to be different or because our eyes are open to the realities of our likely future, wearing the yoke of capitalism around our necks like beasts of burden, not equal human beings, unless we throw off the weight on our back to stand in the sun in our rightful place. Look at the person beside you, across the way from you and then fully realize that individual may one day be arrested and so may you because you dare to be different, threatening to those who seek to control us, especially your life is governed by the principles of anarchism or you believe in / have undertaken direct action against your oppressors. Getting arrested is no joke so without getting too paranoid, find out what to do in such a situation and also wise up about the police. I am often blunt to the point of pain so I do apologize if my words have made anybody uncomfortable but I think one sobering thought really needs to bring a wake-up call, feeling of discomfort with it. That thought is I am here today sitting in a steel and concrete, tomblike cage writing these words to you but sometime in the future it might be you behind prison walls, writing comparable thoughts to the outside. If they come for you in the mornings...

The 'system' and mainstream media portrays those of us within the ever increasing number of jails and prisons as being the equivalent of the proverbial biblical 'unclean people', to be feared, less than humans, and not to be bothered with or worthy any degree of outside concern or support. It amazes me how many intelligent people, including anarchists, active in political struggles, have to varying degrees bought into the disinformation put out by the system. The majority of the unfortunate residents of the gulags are for the most part just like other working class people on the outside, only through a twist of their destiny they were arrested, stood trial and were imprisoned. The system provides the sensationalist image of those behind gulag walls being a bad lot, best steered clear of because the system fears association between those inside and outside.

Inside is a potential army waiting to happen, which needs education, direction and support. The system desires nothing more than to maintain a wall of silence around the gulags isolating prisoners to break their minds and spirits. I have seen bodies broken and minds fragmented forever by the brutal hands of the keepers and their clever use of weaksuck, inmate lackeys. I have seen many men reach out to the struggles outside with heartfelt letters, eager for information about the various movements, education about them. Prisoners seeking compassion and comradeship. I have seen only a few of those who make contact, who are encouraged to learn, to grow, to realize who they are, their potential value to themselves and to the communities outside gulag walls. I have seen far many more give up and sometimes even gravitate towards the hate groups which are now in abundance within the gulags as they are out there. These eventual recruits to the ranks of the extreme right could have been soldiers within our ranks but those who claim to be revolutionaries outside chose to ignore their very existence.

I myself tried in vain for over a decade 'inside' to make contact with like-minded people embracing anarchist politics. I was determined to reach out and refused to give up, unlike a lot of other prisoners around me. I reached out at every opportunity and continued to reach out when there was no response, though many letters requesting political literature and anarchist books but above all, comradeship with other anarchists. My unanswered letters began in the late seventies, continued throughout the eighties and into the early nineties. Finally a first anarchist solidarity letter was handed to me by a faceless clone of a guard at a Tennessee gulag in 1992! That letter and letters since has been like a welcome breeze of fresh air blowing through a place where the air and life stands dormant. The mere fact a fellow anarchist bothered to write brought tears to my eyes, eyes I was long convince would never feel tearful moisture again. I've worked hard since tat first communication to break down the walls between us, you and I, to reach out, to show those who write I'm not different except for my circumstances of being within the belly of the beast.

I am not saying the gulags do not hold their face share of social predators but many prisoners do become politicized within gulag walls due to their own learning efforts. Through direct experience of the system itself, which generally treats prisoners with such blatant injustice that many soon feel only resentment, contempt and anger towards it. Repression breeds resistance. I am merely trying to point out the obvious pitfall of not supporting those seeking the tools to become politicized.

Sadder still than these social prisoners ignored by the revolutionary movements are those should captured during direct or other political actions only to discover once in captivity that they appear to have somehow not been deemed worthy of support and are hence soon forgotten by their so called 'comrades'. One conceptual truth screams out in my heart to be voiced so I will state it now. Any political movement or peoples struggle, which fails to provide support to fallen comrades is doomed to failure as certain as day follows night. Prisoner support should be considered as a top priority within all political movements and with all activists, as we, you or I, never know when gulag gates will slam shut behind us or when those gates to the outside will open again to allow our passage back out once the system has us in it's grasp.

I have endured many hard years, over a decade and a half, within the gulags of this state. As I've already said I spent the first decade banging my head and heart against a wall of silence, attempting to reach out to ears that appeared to be deaf and eyes which appeared to be blind to my existence in hell. I never gave up and have earned the right to point these issues out now. I have earned the right to speak out with the shedding of my blood, the pain of this, in past beaten, tired body and my spirit of anarchism has never been broken by my keepers and never will be! It has only been in recent years that I have been acknowledged by ma anarchist brothers and sisters out there. From my heart I state to you that I love you all! I will close now with these final words. Take care of each other, keep each other safe in the struggles which you face and never forget those in captivity because tomorrow's captive of the monsters of this earth may well be you. Our common enemies are the same from country to country being only different in name and face. They represent the same ideology, which sees this planet and it's populace as throwaway commodities. They threw away their humanity in exchange for power and profits. Stay strong and know in your hearts I am with you in revolutionary spirit in every act you undertake against those who oppress us. We only want the earth, they will never get us all!

18 April 1995

Harold H. Thompson is an anarchist prisoner serving life plus sentences in Tennessee, USA. He was sentenced in 1979 for the killing of a police informer who killed Harold's partner and robbing a jewelry store. Plus 21-75 years for another shooting incident in Ohio. He was later also been given an extra 32 years for a failed armed escape attempt, is active as a jailhouse lawyer in prison. Harold has also written several articles and pamphlets.

Harold H. Thompson #93992
N.W.C.C. Site 1 Route 1, Box 600
Tiptonville, TN 38079-9712
USA

Break The Chains, right!!! 28.Jul.2003 13:19

Kill More Cyclists!

Yeah - let's start "breaking the chains" by freeing the drunk who killed the cyclists on Belmont!

Or perhaps there are people who belong in jail? (We know that our buddy could give a shit that his licence was repeatedly suspended - it didn't stop him from driving 70 MPH stinking drunk down a residential street.)

Perhaps we could give him sensitivity training in lieu of incarceration?

reply 28.Jul.2003 16:36

Todd

Drunkdrivers should be put in a cage somewhere so they can be gang-raped, make Levi's, or join the Aryan Brotherhood [or the Mexican mafia or some competing group of thugs]. Sure beats rehabilitation and "sensitivity training"! More prisons less schools! Let's show China who's boss by locking up quadruple times more people than them! Might makes right!

Might Makes Right! 28.Jul.2003 17:09

Kill More Cyclists!

All I know is that I'm safer riding my bike around Southeast today, given that one specific person is in the clink.

Which is not to say that there aren't a lot of people in prison who shouldn't be there - but the idea that they are all "political prisoners" is ludicrous. Look at one of the three poster children in the article - a guy in an Oregon prison who murdered someone over a drug deal. I'm supposed to be sorry that he can't stroll around Portland?

KMC 28.Jul.2003 18:06

Todd

KMC - And you need to ask yourself whether sending this drunk driver to prison is the only way that he can be held accountable for what he has done. I'm convinced that there are alternatives to prison that can actually help people become better human beings, not just punishing & traumatizing them. Prisons have always been about punishment, exploitation, and serving the interests of those in power. They always have and they always will. I empathize with your anger but I don't think putting people in cages does anything more than satisfy the vindictive victims of criminals. I agree with you that all prisoners are not political prisoners. But all prisoners are affected by race, class, and gender oppression, and this cannot be overlooked when talking about the politics of imprisonment. I really don't have the time to argue these points with you; we could probably go on forever. But I will humbly suggest that you read more about the affects of imprisonment. Take care.