Saturday, July 13, 2013

On The Agreement To End Hostilities

In mid-2012, after the appeal was completely blocked by the judiciary (for the 647(e) 'lodging' conviction, for the PeaceCamp2010 sleeping ban protest (AKA the 1st case)), I was (re)incarcerated.  After the standard few days of being held in general population, I was moved to the medium/minimum security facility in Watsonville, next to the garbage dump, to serve the remaining portion of my sentence.  While there, someone told me they had heard rumors of an announcement, about an "Agreement To End Hostilities", coming from the Pelican Bay SHU facility.

The next time Ed (the lawyer) visited me, I asked him to find out about the announcement, and if he found it, to mail a copy to me.  I also asked him to mail it to me as a person (not a lawyer).  Why?  Because I wanted to be sure the mail was opened and read!  If Ed sent it as a lawyer, they might not open and read it.  I wanted to avoid being persecuted later, for having 'contraband' (for various reasons, possession of various publications and documents are verboten, while incarcerated).

Soon, the mail arrived; opened and (presumably) read, probably unaltered.  So I read it.  As I read the announcement, I was struck by the unity of the message, a "mutual agreement on behalf of all racial groups".  The word that made me smile the most was "obstructionists".

Immediately, I started to show it to others, including shot callers.  Some were as impressed as I, others questioned the authenticity of the document (something I could not attempt to verify, because I was incarcerated, without access to the internet).

The announcement called for unity in SHU, Ad-Seg, General Population, and County Jails.  The announcement called for peaceful protest activity/noncooperation e.g. hunger strike, no labor, etc.  Of course I was interested!  The October 10, 2012 deadline was days away.  I wondered if people would try to settle business, before the deadline.  I wondered if unity would hold, because anyone 'misbehaving' at Watsonville would probably be sent back to the jail downtown (there are fewer 'privileges' there).  I wondered if word would make it out to County Jails before the deadline.  Apparently it didn't, because October 10th came and went, without any noticeable change.

And soon thereafter, I was woken up and told I was being released.  This was surprising, because my official release date was the end of October.  So I asked the guard if there was a mistake.  He said no.  I asked again (there was someone standing nearby, who said 'shut up and go before they change their minds').  The guard made a call, confirming that there wasn't a mistake.  I asked if I would have to return, if there was a mistake.  The guard said no.  Cool.  I gave away my commissary and books, and left.

Ever since then, I have wondered why I was released early.  Was it because they miscalculated my remaining time (a common mistake)?  Was it because they needed the space (the California prison/jail crowding decision stills threatens the system)?  Was it because of my (slight) activism after receiving the 'Agreement To End Hostilities' announcement?  I may never know.  But, if I return to the system, it seems unlikely that I will be returning to medium/minimum Watsonville, because I am likely to support the agreement, along with the 30,000 others, hunger striking right now.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Unfashionable Defiance

Why is sleep a crime?  It is difficult to get an answer, from anyone.  It is much easier to get a conviction (sentenced to 6 months and then sentenced to 2 years).  The appellate court refuses to hear arguments.  So sleep is still illegal.  A fundamental human need remains a crime.

Recently someone dared, using chalk, to write things like "No Thanks, Big Banks" on the sidewalk in front of Bank Of America.  Upset about the big bank bailouts, he expressed himself, and was taken to trial.  The threat of 13 years, if convicted, seemed to wake a lot of people up.  Now that the chalkist has been acquitted, those people will probably return to sleep.  Meanwhile, those suffering from predatory foreclosure continue to join those that face jail time, for the act of sleeping.

In Detroit, The Empowerment Plan is helping by making coats that are also sleeping bags.  This too is very fashionable.  But the difficult question remains unanswered, even among fans of The Empowerment Plan; why is sleep illegal?  In Santa Cruz, wearing such a coat/sleeping bag could result in a ticket, because using a blanket to keep warm at night, even if awake, is also a crime.  You think I am kidding?  I am not kidding.  I have received that very ticket.

Do you have an answer for that inconvenience question?  Do you know anyone that has an answer for that question?

I don't care if it is unfashionable.  I am going to keep asking.