Spring is here, the sun is shining a bit longer, prison guards are refusing the vaccine, judges are mandating video surveillance to combat guard abuse of prisoners with disabilities, and prison mail companies are expanding their surveillance. It’s a strange and cruel world we’re in the process of dismantling. We continue to see glimmers of light; Virginia—the state with the second most executions—has finally abolished the death penalty.
On March 17, political prisoner and Black Liberation fighter Romaine ‘Chip’ Fitzgerald suffered an episode of massive intracranial bleeding and was airlifted to a nearby hospital. On March 29 we learned that Chip passed away. The longest held member of the Black Panther Party, Chip entered the California prisons at 20 years old, and while he was first eligible for parole in 1976, he remained behind bars for 51 years. Romaine Chip Fitzgerald Presente!
With just a handful of copies left in stock, the 2021 Certain Days: Freedom for Political Prisoners calendars have been discounted to $5, so get one while they last. The April artwork in the calendar is by Nidal el-Khairy and highlights the roots of solidarity that are needed to combat the prison-industrial complex (PIC). The essay for the month—“Palestinian Prisoners, Steadfastness, and the Grassroots BDS Campaign”—is by Konstantin Kilibarda.
In the coming weeks the Certain Days collective will release its call-out for submissions for the 2022 calendar, including theme and guidelines. Check back at certaindays.org or itsgoingdown.org and be sure to share the call-out widely.
Political Prisoner Birthdays
The only political prisoner’s birthday in April is that of Mumia Abu-Jamal, who will turn 67. Mumia recently contracted COVID-19 and his health has continued to deteriorate during his 37 years of wrongful imprisonment. As a Pennsylvania prisoner he will only receive scans of correspondence, but send him a birthday letter or card now to show your solidarity.
Mumia Abu-Jamal, #AM8335
Smart Communications/PA DOC
PO Box 33028
St Petersburg, FL 33733
Releases, Acquittals, and Dropped Charges
Check out the latest in our reanimated Twin Trouble podcast! We’re thrilled to be back, and are talking about fascism, free speech, and the internet in the context of the Jan 6 MAGA insurrection. We also talk Jeremy’s recent release, and what’s next!https://t.co/QqFJ6uEOQ1
— (Freed!) Jeremy Hammond Support Crew 🏴 (@FreeJeremyNet) April 1, 2021
Standing Rock Water Protector Red Fawn Fallis and hacktivist Jeremy Hammond were released from halfway houses in early March, after serving various sentences for their actions in defense of life. Red Fawn released a statement, while Standing Rock Water Protector Rattler remains in a halfway house, expected to be released sometime in April.
On March 22, charges were dropped against Nick Tilsen and other Land Defenders arrested in the Black Hills on July 3. This is a victory, though the struggle to free the land from corporate greed continues. Journalist Andrea Sahouri, arrested last year while covering a BLM protest, was acquitted of her charges on March 10.
On March 30, a Monroe County Grand Jury declined to indict former political prisoner Jalil Muntaqim, who was facing felony charges for registering to vote upon being released last winter after 49 years of imprisonment.
NoDAPL Water Protector Steve Martinez was held in contempt of court and jailed on March 3 for refusing to testify before a Grand Jury, after being released on February 22 for the same charge. Fundraising is needed, and you can check out a recent Final Straw podcast on the case here.
✨Thank you for the beautiful card @SupportSteveNow ✨
Send water defender and grand jury resister Steve Martinez your love!
Write him, support him, free him! pic.twitter.com/DV1Utcgjju
— Willamette Valley Abolition Project (@w_v_a_p) March 30, 2021
On March 17, lawyers for political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal filed a response in the hopes of re-opening appeals filed on Mumia’s behalf. You can read more about the struggles of Pennsylvania political prisoners Abu-Jamal and Russell Maroon Shoatz in the new Human Rights Coalition magazine, pages 33-38. On March 19th, Mumia issued a message to supporters who flooded phone lines and email inboxes, demanding his release. Here’s his statement:
Dear sisters, brothers, comrades, and friends and family on a MOVE! How can I thank you? These, my words, can hardly measure the flood of love that you have radiated on my behalf recently. I am almost — almost — without words, but I’ll try.
Thank you, Wadiya. Thank you, Pam Africa. Your support from Philadelphia to France, from points across the nation and literally around the globe, have pulled me from a prison cell and placed me in a hospital room to be treated for a condition I didn’t know I had.
In the age of pandemic as of January 2021, over 300,000 prisoners have tested positive for COVID-19. Imagine that in a cell, trying to breathe with a weight pressing on your chest. Imagine an elder man or woman, or even a young person, because yes, we are also in an age of mass incarceration, which day-by-day increases its infliction upon the elderly struggling, unsuccessfully, to breathe, to walk, to be.
I thank you all for reaching out and I urge you all, let our mission be abolition. I love you all. Thank you again, from the bottom of my heart.
From imprisoned nation, this is Mumia Abu-Jamal.
Vegan anarchist political prisoner Eric King has released a new article about the injustice of the Bureau of Prison’s treatment of Eric and those incarcerated with him. Eric’s trial has been pushed back to October 2021, while he continues to be held in segregation with extremely restricted communications.
— Support_Eric_King (@SupportEricKing) March 24, 2021
In Case You Missed It
- San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin recently wrote a piece for The Nation about being parented by his incarcerated parents, former political prisoner Kathy Boudin and current political prisoner and Certain Days founding member David Gilbert.
- Political prisoner Jaan Laaman recently wrote a statement to various ABC chapters, and others, addressing the recent rise in anti-Asian violence and the need to address it.
- Don’t miss this recent piece in The Washington Post, and this one by Natasha Lennard for The Intercept, about longtime political prisoner Sundiata Acoli, who is still fighting for freedom after almost 50 years. Learn more at the new site for the Bring Sundiata Acoli Home Alliance. Sign the petition now to help bring Sundiata home!
- There is an informative new article about accused Green Scare activist Joseph Dibee, who is now on home-confinement trying to gain his freedom.
- Chicano political prisoner and Certain Days collective member Xinachtli has released a new statement calling for the creation of a National United Front Prison Lives Matter movement.
- The NYC Anarchist Black Cross new Illustrated Guide to Political Prisoners and Prisoners of War is now available. There are new people added to this guide, so be sure to learn about them and offer solidarity if you can.
- Don’t miss this new article about former Black Panther Party leader Elaine Brown, which is full of important history.
- Check out this fascinating article about Death Row prisoners at San Quentin Prison who are creating and selling some beautiful artwork.
- This new article highlights the Black Panther Party’s Free Breakfast Program and how it serves as a model for the problems we continue to face today.
- Check out this new documentary about whistleblower Reality Winner and the ongoing torture she has faced since speaking out against government corruption.
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Certain Days to Keep in Mind
As you’ll see in your 2021 Certain Days: Freedom for Political Prisoners calendar, April is packed full of radical dates commemorating movement history. From the founding of the Sacred Stone Camp at Standing Rock five years ago to the unarmed Zapatista occupation of San Andres 22 years ago, there’s plenty here to learn about and keep you inspired. We also mourn the passing of Black Liberation fighters Bobby Hutton (1968) and Nuh Washington (2000), both of whom lost their lives to state violence.