August POC Political Prisoners’ Birthdays

Debbie Sims Africa
#OO-6307
451 Fullerton Ave
Cambridge Springs, PA
16403-1238
 
August 4, 1956
 
Debbie Sims Africa is one of the MOVE 9. There are
currently eight MOVE activists in prison each serving
100 years after been framed for the murder of a cop
in 1979. The 9th defendant, Merle Africa, died in
prison in 1998. MOVE is an eco-revolutionary group
dedicated to liberation struggles.
 
Dr. Mutulu Shakur
83205-012
USP Victorville
U.S. Penitentiary
P.O. Box 5300
Adelanto, Ca 92301
 
August 8, 1950
 
Incarcerated freedom fighter Dr. Mutulu Shakur has
been imprisoned since February 12, 1986 for activities
in support of the Black Liberation Movement, and
during that time he has still managed to contribute
to the struggle and contribute to the legacy of his
late son Tupac Shakur. Before his imprisonment Dr.
Shakur was a tireless educator and healer, and was a
key organizer in the historic gang truce between the
Bloods and the Crips at Lompoc Penitentiary.
 
Hanif Shabazz Bey (Beaumont Gereau)
(address to Beaumont Gereau, write to Hanif Shabazz Bey)
RR 1 Box 9955
Kingshill, St Croix, Virgin Islands 00850
 
August 16, 1950
 
From 1971 to 1973, there was a rebellion taking place to
resist colonial rule in the U.S. occupied Virgin Islands.
On September 6th, 1972, eight American tourists
were gunned down at the Rockefeller-owned golf
course on the island of St. Croix. Colonial authorities
picked up over 100 blacks for interrogations, and
U.S. colonial troops carried out a series of repressive
acts of violence against the black community. 5
known supporters of the Virgin Island independence
movement, including Hanif, were apprehended and
charged with the attack. In 1973 the 5 were sentenced
to 8 consecutive life sentences.
 
Fernando González (Rubén Campa)
(address to “Rubén Campa,” write to Fernando Gonzales)
#58733-004
FCI Terre Haute
P.O. BOX 33
Terre Haute, IN 47808
 
August 18, 1963
 
Rubén is 1 of the Cuban Five who is in U.S. prison,
wrongly convicted and serving four life sentences and
75 years collectively. The Five were falsely accused
by the U.S. government of espionage conspiracy and
related charges against the United States. The Five
were involved in monitoring the actions of Miamibased
right wing terrorist groups, in order to prevent
terrorist attacks on their country of Cuba.
 
Maliki Latine
#81-A-4469
Clinton Correctional Facility
P.O. Box 2001
Dannemora, New York 12929
 
August 23, 1949
 
Maliki Shakur Latine was in the Black Panther
Party and spent 8 years in the underground
working for black liberation. On October 1, 1981,
he was sentenced to 25 to life in connection with
a series of bank expropriations. He is a devout
Muslim (Shia Sufi), is learned in philosophy,
community building and organizing, martial arts,
and resistance.
 
Russell Maroon Shoats
AF-3855
175 Proggress Dr.
Waynesburg, PA 15370
 
August 23, 1943
 
Russell Maroon Shoats is a dedicated community
activist and founding member of the Philadelphia
based organizations Black Unity Council and Black
Panther Party. In 1970 Maroon and others were
accused of attacking a police station, which resulted
in an officer being killed. For 18 months Maroon
functioned underground as a soldier in the Black
Liberation Army. In 1972 he was captured. He escaped
twice in 1977 and again in 1980, but was recaptured
and today he is held in a control unit in Pennsylvania
where he is serving multiple life sentences.
 
Rafil A. Dhafir
11921-052
FCI Terre Haute
P.O. Box 33
Terre Haute, IN 47808
 
August 25, 1948
 
Rafil A. Dhafir is an Iraqi-born American physician,
who was targeted along with many other Muslims
post 9/11. He started the charity Help the Needy, to
respond to the humanitarian crisis created by the
Gulf War and US sanctions on Iraq. The charity was
charged with violating the sanctions, and when
Dhafir refused a plea bargain, the government
falsely charged the charity with fraud, money
laundering, tax evasion and a variety of other
nonviolent crimes.
 
Ronald Reed
5329 Osgood Avenue North
Stillwater, Minnesota 55082-1117
 
August 31, 1950
 
Ronald Reed is a 60s civil rights activist, who was
among students at St. Paul Central High School
who demanded black history courses and organized
against racist teachers, and was also instrumental
in integrating college campuses in Minnesota. Reed
began to look toward revolutionary theory and to
engage in political street theater in St. Paul and went
on to join the Black United Front. In 1970 there was a
shooting of a St. Paul police officer. Twenty-five years
after the killing, Reed was arrested and convicted of
first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit first
degree-murder. He is serving life in prison.
 

New Connections

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(Dis) Connection was “a networking journal for radical collectives and infoshops.” (Emphasis in the original.) The second issue was written by Chicagoans, and was largely about the A-Zone. The words “Left Bank donated $50.00 to assist in our goal of one Uzi per A-Zone member” on the inside cover of the November ’94 issue instantly sparked my interest.  I’d only discovered this journal when my comrade, ex-A-Zoner Rachel A., lent me two copies to help with my research for the A-Zone Essay Project.

Articles in this issue such as “Against Half-Assed Race and Class Theory and Practice” by Ken Wong, “Gentrifuckation and White Frontier Collectives” and “On Boys In Collectives” were somewhat painful reminders about how many current Leftist activists in general, and participants in the Infoshop Movement in particular are pretty good at re-inventing faulty wheels. Bringing back these past discussions and insights is a large part of the point of that project.

When asked to be on a panel about “Zines & Libraries” at Chicago ‘Zine Fest in 2010 when I was doing the research, I made a point in inviting Ken Wong and bringing the two copies of (Dis) Connection with me, and talking about how Wicker Park was still 70% Latin@ at the time the A-Zone was there according to the journal. I brought this up while talking about the current gentrification of Pilsen, for anyone there who still might not be taking it seriously.

In the other issue of the journal I was able to check out, #3, Winter 95, one particular article stood out to me, “A-ZONE!? WHAT THE fuck?!?”  “Recently we decided to have an ‘Existentialist Blues’ discussion at the Azone. We decided to do this because we REALLY needed to, because we hadn’t had one in a long time, cuz we though it’d be fun (ahem), and because we were (possibly) moving to a new space.”

The article is mostly an analysis of the discussion, and its follow up, and a larger one was produced as a pamphlet, Existentialist Blues. I would Love to see a copy, and possibly include it as an appendix to a future edition of the project, or a new one.  In an era of so-called “social networking” websites, these journals were a real charge to get a hold of, and I’m sure I would have read, and re-read them if they were new.

The networking that came formally out of the journal culminated in Active Resistance, a series of events that were held in Chicago in opposition to the Democratic National Convention that met there in 1996. We had an Active Resistance banner hanging on the wall in the main room of the Bucktown space the whole time I was in the Collective, and the events were the stuff of local legend to me.

I would Love to help try to organize a New Connections journal for Punk and/or Collective Houses, Infoshops, and other radical spaces.  I would like to use a similar format where cities take turns publishing issues to share about the trials and tribulations in the Anti-State of their local movements, without airing too much dirty laundry.  Maybe we can have a list serve for that!  I would also greatly appreciate input from people who were involved with (Dis) Connection.

I can be reached at alextheweaver at gmail dot com.

Posted on POCO!  An updated version was posted on libcom.org.

“Asia’s Unknown Uprisings Volume 1” by George Katsiaficas

PM Press 2012

Katsiaficas starts off this work with a preface that both explains his political background and personal experiences and interest in Korea.  It annoyed me a bit, especially when he wrote “My overwhelming sense is that Korea is simultaneously the most civil society I have ever experienced and the most Americanized Asian country I have ever visited.”  (xxiv)  But I appreciated his being upfront, and felt that it helped put his perspective into place, and as I got into the main part of the work, his personal narrative dropped off for the most part.

Also, as the developer “of the concept of the eros effect to explain the rapid spread of revolutionary aspirations and actions during the strikes of May 1968 in France and May 1970 in the United States as well as the proliferation of the global movement in this same period of time”, (xxvii) he also puts his theoretical perspectives out front, then repeatedly returns to this concept through out the book, as people’s actions back his theories.

Katsiaficas interviewed over 50 members of the Gwangju Citizen’s Army, one of the personal steps that make this such a critical historical work.  As with many such works, he had to go back before the 20th Century to help create the proper historical framework for understanding the events of the century, and meticulously chronicles both the foreign intervention in Korea in general, and Western intervention in particular.  He also writes about how colonialism, then neo-liberalism was effecting other Asian nations at any given time of the book, showing an Internationalist perspective that helped make the context of the various eras clear.

Katsiaficas also makes a point of chronicling cultural changes, and tries to show their political connotations, but the core of the work, true to its subtitle “South Korean Social Movements in the 20th Century” is a record of revolutionary struggle against Japanese then United States Imperialism and local collaborators, class struggle against both foreign and domestic exploitation and domination, and struggles within the working class against sexism and other forms of discrimination and oppression.

To me, stories of  the Internationalism of Koreans who fought against the Japanese in China was some of the most exciting material in the book, possibly upwards of 160,000 in the border area alone!  (49)

With the end of World War II, the replacement of Japan as the colonial power dominating Korea with the United States is clearly outlined, as the northern half of Korea started to be run by People’s Committees which had sprung up all over the country, (68) and possibly 100,000 south Koreans were killed while resisting the occupation and division of the country before the start of the Korean War (60).

The overthrow of various US backed military governments in 1960 and 1987, and the mass student and labor organizing while under threat of heavy prison sentences and police, military and/or vigilante violence, and the journalism during heavy censorship that was behind these struggles and the conflicts to come against neo-liberalism are all throughly documented, with plenty of sources cited for further study.

In my opinion, the only weak part is the 13th and final chapter of the book, The Democratic Dilemma.  As I read its accounting of democratically elected, right-wing governments’ regressive policies and sell out liberals doing much of the same, it left me wondering how exactly it was a dilemma until just shy of the end.  Katsiaficas, correctly in my opinion, points out, “The hundreds of middle and high school girls who led the first protests in Seoul [in 2008] revealed this dilemma of democracy.  They embodied a ‘collective intelligence’ superior to their country’s elite” (415) though after plenty of theorizing and editorializing through out the book, writing like a lion for the first 12 chapters closes out the book as a lamb leaving me wondering, and what?  Since the future is still to be written, and he is from the States it makes sense that he would do so, and I applaud his stepping back and not asserting himself as some sort of great visionary who can direct a radical Korean future, as far too many white North Americans have been doing for far too long.  It just seemed to trail off, but has been a wealth of information very worth reading and following up on.

This is an excellent radio interview with the author that inspired me to read the book:

http://www.asiapacificforum.org/show-detail.php?show_id=263#734

Written for POCO!