The last week of October saw a few different court dates for comrades across the country. In two separate arms trade-related cases, Sam and Dan were acquitted on a criminal damage charge for actions they took against military equipment being sold to Saudi Arabia, while down in Cardiff, a court found D Murphy guilty for making hoax phone calls to try and stop the Cardiff arms fair, giving her a 12 week suspended sentence for 18 months and ordering her to pay £2000 costs and £115 victim surcharge, which feels like a victory of sorts considering that she was potentially facing an actual custodial sentence. In a statement, D said “My resolve in opposing the Arms Trade has only been strengthened by this experience and I hope to see a huge protest outside next year’s DPRTE Arms Fair at the Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff. My thanks for all the support I have been shown – Solidarity is a Weapon.”
Meanwhile, in quite a different case, Josh Walker, the YPG volunteer who was prosecuted on terrorism charges for having a copy of the Anarchist Cookbook, was acquitted, after the jury rejected the prosecution’s ridiculous arguments: “the prosecution acknowledged that Walker was not suspected of plotting any kind of terrorist atrocity. The government was instead arguing that his mere possession of the book was a violation of the Terrorism Act’s Section 58 because it contained information that could have been useful to a terrorist if discovered. The book is freely available to anyone on the internet, and versions of it can even be purchased on Amazon. Regardless, prosecution lawyer Robin Sellers said it was possible a “radicalized” person could find Walker’s copy of the book and use it to prepare an attack. The prosecution’s argument seemed bizarre and without precedent… Sellers, the prosecution lawyer, suggested Walker had endangered public safety by taking the book home and storing it in a drawer under his bed.”
While Josh’s case has now been resolved, his fellow volunteer Aiden Aslin remains in legal limbo, in a very deja vu case – last year, he was arrested on his return from fighting with the YPG, and spent most of 2016 on bail waiting to hear whether he was going to face terrorism charges or not before the CPS finally dropped the charges against him. Since then, he returned to Syria, spent another tour of duty fighting against ISIS, only to be arrested again, and then bailed again, and so he is once again waiting to find out whether the cops think that fighting ISIS makes him a terrorist or not. His next bail date is December 13.
And just to remind everyone one last time, if you can get over to Sheffield on Hallowe’en, miners’ strike veterans and friends will be holding their “Death of Justice” rally commemorating the events of the Battle of Orgreave and the government’s ongoing determination to keep the truth of what happened that day suppressed.
Over in the US, Dane Powell, the first person to be imprisoned for the J20 protests against Trump’s inauguration, is now getting released, but could use some donations to help him get back on his feet after prison. As the Dead City Legal Posse put it, “Let’s offer whatever financial support we can, if we are able, to assist as Dane celebrates his release and figures out how to enjoy this new version of freedom, together with his family and loved ones.
We are most concerned, obviously, with assisting with his immediate challenges of securing (probation-approved) housing, employment, educational opportunities, reliable transportation, and whatever physical and emotional health and wellness support that he and his family may potentially require through this transition. We must, of course, also bolster Dane’s capacity to provide for his amazing kids.
Dane’s attention, together with the rest of ours, is on his co-defendants, especially those with upcoming trials in November and December of this year, and rightly so. But we must spread the love and resources around, so that everyone at every stage in these criminal proceedings, from arrest through post-release, experiences the loving support of this community. The quality of support Dane receives upon release, after serving four months in federal prison, will send a clear and valuable message to others embroiled in this drama about the love, solidarity and continuum of care that they, and their loved ones, can anticipate as they stand against state repression.” The first trials for Dane’s J20 co-defendants will start in mid-November and then continue throughout much of next year.
Robert Seth Hayes, a long-term political prisoner from the Black Panther Party/Black Liberation Army, is still in danger from medical neglect, and supporters are requesting phone calls and emails to the New York Department of Corrections to help him get the equipment and treatment he needs.
Down in California, inmates at jails in Alameda County launched a hunger strike over conditions and the use of solitary confinement, but that has now been suspended after officials entered into negotiations. And over in South Carolina, McCormick prisoners are asking for support in challenging unbearable conditions.
They’re asking for people to send a message along the following lines:
“Hello, I am contacting you to inform you of ongoing human rights abuses at McCormick Correctional Facility. I believe that there are civil rights violations ongoing at McCormick, where inmates have been rationed to one cup of water a day, and excessive force has been used regularly throughout the past three weeks.
Normal operations at this facility must be allowed to resume without delay, and the inhumane living conditions need to be rectified immediately. Currently, prisoners report being confined to their cells 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Sick call medical neglect is routine, showers are being provided at most once a week, prisoners are being served small and insufficient amounts of food, prisoners are being forced to live in two-man cells for weeks without being allowed to clean them, and excessive force is being used at every meal. Meanwhile, steel plates are being used to cover all windows, eliminating natural sunlight – further proof of cruel and unusual treatment.
These abuses need to be stopped at once.
To these people:
U.S. Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Office of the Assistant Attorney General, Main
Washington, D.C. 20530
Telephone Number: (202) 514-4609
Senator Karl Allen
602 Gressette Bldg.
Business Phone: (803) 212-6008
Online contact form
State Law Enforcement Division
4400 Broad River Road
Columbia, South Carolina 29210
General line: 803-737-900
email@example.com (Assistant Debbie Hamilton)
Bryan P. Stirling, Director
South Carolina Department of Corrections
4444 Broad River Road
Columbia, South Carolina 29210