strange what you can find on the internet…this is from 2003, when i was incarcerated in the oregon state penetentiary…from autonomedia interactivist exchange
This year started on an interesting note. On January 2nd, Oregon Department of Corrections Security Threat Group manager (Benny Ward) came by to visit. He threatened to send me into exile in Eastern Oregon — far from my daughter in Portland — if I didn’t move out of the cell I shared with Brian McCarvill.
Brian is currently suing ODOC over their mailroom policies, which have resulted in the rejection of anarchist literature sent to him. This has been something that has bothered me the past 3 years — I have over 200 mail violations notices concerning letters and publications sent to me here in prison. Their favorite reasons for such “violations” are because the publications are “anarchist-related” or because of “STG symbol” — in this case, a circled “a,” a symbol used internationally for “anarchy”. I support Brian’s lawsuit. Plus, he is a valued and trusted friend. We chose not to split up. Brian actually said he could get more legal work done in the hole because he’d have more free time.
On January 7th, we received write-ups about “unauthorized activity” and “disobedience of an order.” This had to do with a card writing campaign I’d initiated a month earlier. I’d asked people to send postcards to us with a circled “a” symbol on them, along with the caption “This is not a gang symbol.” (Apparently, we received something like 650 such cards.)
Two days after receiving the write-up, we were called to a disciplinary hearing. After discussing the issue with me, the hearings officer told me, “I find you guilty of continuing to be involved in the anarchist movement”.
Pretty illuminating, as this was not what I was charged with. But it does actually sum up ODOC’s attitude towards me. It has not been easy, but I have attempted to stay involved with events on the outside of these walls. I’ve been incarcerated since the international Reclaim the Streets day of solidarity to oppose the G-8 summit in Cologne, Germany, June 18th 1999. I’ve missed out on the Battle of Seattle, the anti-IMF/WB protests, the protests against both the Democratic and Republican National Conventions and GW Bush’s bloodless coup.
The summary of my hearing contained a few lies and half-truths, designed to make me appear to be a threat to the safety and the security of ODOC facilities, if not the world at large.
The hearings officer noted that I threatened to use my 30 years of organizing skills to “cause trouble” for ODOC. What I actually said was that I’d assured Benny Ward as well as the STG managers here at OSP that I would not use my extensive organizing skills to create trouble for them (i just wanted to do my time and get out intact). And I asked if it would be too much to expect that I be allowed to have my mail? Apparently it is. (was: Brian won the lawsuit – he does that a lot – and they started allowing a lot more stuff in.)
The most alarming aspect of this, though, is the fact that ODOC has come to the conclusion that I am a member of the Earth Liberation Front. This despite the fact that I’ve never been arrested for an action by the ELF, nor have I ever been questioned about any actions by the ELF. Indeed, there is no evidence or rumor of evidence that can connect me to the ELF in any way whatsoever.
The ELF is a clandestine group whose sole purpose is to carry out acts of sabotage against corporations and research facilities that the ELF considers responsible for despoiling the earth.
As such, it has been listed as a terrorist organization, and is one of the targeted focal points for several Joint Task Force(s) on Terrorism in cities and states across the US.
I am a writer and an activist. It has been a deliberate decision on my part not to undertake acts of sabotage, since I lack the skill and knowledge to do so effectively and safely. So far, no one has been hurt or killed by an ELF action.
Despite losing my job in the prison infirmary, being sent to the hole for 120 days and being labeled a “terrorist,” I will continue to write for anarchist and “alternative” publications. I am an enemy of the New World Order. We, the people, shall overthrow the rule of corporate power.
Sì Se Puede!
ps – may, 2012; i miss my comrade Brian – feel free to write letters of support to him. envelopes must contain a full name and return address:
Brian McCarvill #11037967
Snake River Correctional Institution
777 Stanton Blvd
Ontario, Oregon 97914-8335
to add a little more retrospective background to this story:
i was getting threats from other prisoners because of the over-the-top censorship from the mail room. it reached the point that they were rejecting any publication with a visible circle-a on it. mind you, this was during the short-lived “riot tourist” era in the early 21st century. there were photos of people carrying banners and waving flags with @s on them in newspapers, magazines, etc. a lot of them, even in local dailies and other mainstream publications. and they were not being allowed inside. so, as you can imagine, there were complaints and finger-pointing, with much of the blame being directed at me.
Brian and i had agreed that this was an issue worth fighting over. for one thing, Brian is a very capable, self-taught litigator. he regularly kicks the State Attorney’s best lawyers’ asses in court cases. Brian encourages other prisoners to litigate, and usually works as a clerk and legal aid in the legal library – when such positions are allowed.
to get back to the story, we were 100 percent certain we would win this – it has been litigated and decided before, but neither the ODOC nor apparently the State Attorney’s office have very high competency standards, and really think they can just do whatever. the US supreme court sorta kinda agrees, but also have firmly ruled that your constitutional rights do not end at the gate when someone is sent to prison.
the court decision came after we had been locked up in the DSU (the hole) for almost four months. we won. we knew we would, and we had been telling people that it was in the courts, be patient. i won’t say we came out to hero’s welcomes, but many of the prisoners who knew what was what came up and shook our hands, usually with many on-lookers (this is called “showing” respect. almost means the same as “if you got a problem with this guy, you got a problem with me.”) i also made it a point of asking people who had flicked me shit about their mail if it had gotten better. got a few apologies, got a few thanks, and also got a few requests concerning legal issues. if there wasn’t an easy, obvious answer for their questions, i’d refer them to the legal floor to request an advisor who had access to the legal library. i had a little skill – kept reference material in my cell. (best place to start: Prisoners’ Self Help Litigation Manual)
Brian got shipped out to another facility shortly afterwards. there’s more to this story, but i’m not sure people would believe me if i wrote about it. i suppose it could be verified through ODOC records, but i’m not into it. tell ya what, though – buy me a pint or two and i’ll tell you all about it. cheers!