"More than machinery, we need humanity."
Today marks a full year that Jeremy Hammond has been locked up, awaiting trial after being charged with the Stratfor hack. Last March 5, he was arrested in Chicago by the FBI, after that fucker Sabu cooperated. He is being held here in New York City, since these are federal charges. In the case’s most recent developments, judge Loretta Preska has declined to recuse herself, even though her husband was a Stratfor client and his information was among that leaked by Wikileaks. That came after she denied him bail in November, under pretense that he would be a flight risk and saying he is a danger to the community. Pardon me, my eyes just rolled out of my head. Also, he’s been spending some time in solitary confinement, which, obviously, sucks.
In somewhat better news, two of the grand jury resisters out in Seattle were release last week! For those who follow the scribblings of radical librarians, I last wrote about the grand jury resisters at the People’s Library blog in October; recall that this has a lot to do with speech, press, association, and other rights that librarians care about.
Let me get us all up to speed. Not too long after she was taken into custody, Leah-Lynn Plante was released; the general opinion is that she cooperated. *downsparkles* A fourth person, Maddy Pfeiffer, was later also imprisoned. On February 27, Matt Duran and Katherine “Kteeo” Olejnik were released, meaning that Maddy is the only one of the four left in. All of the resisters have spent time in solitary confinement. Matt and KteeO were released because, according to judge Richard Jones, “Both Ms. Olejnik and Mr. Duran have provided extensive declarations explaining that although they wish to end their confinement, they will never end their confinement by testifying. The court finds their declaration persuasive.” Since the sole legal reason for their imprisonment was to coerce testimony, once it was clear that they would never testify, there was no legally sound reason to hold them, and occasionally (unlike Jeremy Hammond) one has some luck in judges.
And then there’s Bradley Manning. A guilty plea to some lesser charges, no chance that he’d ever get a fair shake, and still facing trial over some stuff. Been in custody for nearly three years, lots of time in super-duper-solitary. What a clusterfuck. Honestly, I can’t even. Librarians, you really should go look this one up.
Oh, and Aaron Swartz. You want the government doing fucked up shit that librarians should care about? I got it right here. Look that up, too.
This doesn’t even touch the tip on the political prisoner iceberg. Which doesn’t even begin to address the giant racist, classist prison-industrial complex mess that we’ve got going on in this country.
A small light, though. There’s #OpPenPal. Writing letters to prisoners is a way to help them stay in contact with the outside world, and to let them know that we are paying attention to their situations. It is especially important for those who are in solitary confinement, whose human contact and means of diversion are very limited. Read the guidelines for the facility you are mailing to, get out your pen and paper, go buy some stamps, pick a prisoner or three, and get writing. Major cities such as New York and Chicago have regular letter writing parties as encouragement. And lots of the prisoners write back; I have an ongoing correspondence with Jeremy Hammond and always look forward to his letters. Can’t think of much to write? Send a postcard or print out some LolCats. Anything that will let our dear comrades know we haven’t forgotten them.