The other day I was sitting out on the yard with an anarchist punk friend of mine. He and I share many common ideals, interests, and life experience. Over time, many fellow squatters and punk rockers have come and gone. But he and I are doing some time and are glad for the company.
We reclined on the bleachers watching the sky. The sun had already set behind the prison buildings and we were in their shadow. It was the time of evening I love so much. The setting sun casting colors on stray clouds and yet the sky remains a brilliant blue. Few things remind me that despite the walls I am still a child of the earth. The sky is my solace.
I was lost in my tranquil state when my friend said out of nowhere, "You know, Free, you are probably the most famous person I know." I started laughing, my eyes still on the sky. "You know, you might be right. But, I'll remember you when I get to the top."
"I know," he said laughing. "That's why I'm going to sell all of your stuff on E-bay."
We both laughed in that characteristically prison way, where laughter truly is the only medicine. A few minutes later and it was time to head back home, back to the cell.
Compared to most prisoners I am very fortunate. My friend is right. I am famous (amongst activists anyways). I am supported with visits, letters, money, and books. My fellow prisoners and the guards respect me. All things considered, I live a comfortable life.
I am thankful for the love and support I've received. I'm even more thankful that my words have spread so far.
Still I can't help but wonder if my words are reaching the right people. I love that I can inspire other activists and like-minded individuals. But I aspire to reach beyond our own and get through to members of the general public. I want to form alliances with the working class and social justice struggles.
I dream of the day when unions stand in solidarity with environmentalists and refuse to unload or ship products made by companies destroying the planet. I want to see anarchists supporting picket lines and struggling for a living wage. I want to see the struggle to end vivisection embraced by all struggles.
I live for the day when supporting multifaceted struggle means embracing lobbying, direct action and sabotage as legitimate and equally valuable components of change.
I want to go beyond radicalism and liberalism, move past definitions. I want labels and stigmas to disappear. I want a truly united front against oppression and injustice.
I would love to see real and meaningful change accomplished in my lifetime. In my heart, I know it is possible. But it will only be accomplished by destroying our chains be they made of prejudice, factionalism, or by the tools of oppression. We must then create bonds of mutual respect and solidarity so we can begin building the alternatives to the structures and systems of today, in order to make room for a better tomorrow.
Divided we stand united we rise.
- Jeff "Free" Luers
Write to: Jeff Luers
Oregon State Prison
2605 State Street
Salem, Oregon 97310
For more information: www.freefreenow.org