From Where the River Frowns:
Evansville residents gathered tonight outside the Winfield K. Denton Federal Building to hold a vigil for Ricky Ard who was murdered earlier today by police.
Approximately sixty people attended the spontaneous vigil, which was organized by word of mouth and social media. Although no centralized group took responsibility for organizing the event, the group appeared unified in their message that Ard’s murder was unjustified.
Attendees lit candles, wrote messages in chalk on the sidewalk, talked about their experiences with police brutality, and exchanged contact information throughout the night.
Those who knew Ard shared stories about him. A woman who said she had known Ard her whole life said that he was a good neighbor and a kind man who often helped out elderly people in their neighborhood. She also said that he was physically disabled and suffered from some kind of mental illness.
Another Evansville resident who recently retired from the military shared his experiences as an Iraq War veteran. He said that his “rules of engagement” during active combat in Iraq were more restrictive than those followed by the Evansville Police Department and that, had he been confronted by a man swinging a baseball bat in Iraq, he would have been expected to use non-lethal means of disarming him.
One woman demanded that police release body camera footage of the shooting and led the group in chanting “show me the body cam!”
Those present at the vigil discussed meeting up tomorrow, Wednesday, August 30, at 11 a.m. outside the federal building for a rally in protest of Ricky Ard’s murder.
Sidewalk chalk outside the federal building calls attention to police murders across the U.S. this year (Photo: Where the River Frowns)
This is the body of a flyer (PDF: Charlottesville text) distributed at yesterday’s vigil, called by Indivisible Bloomington (a front for the Democratic Party). The organizers of the vigil hoped to recuperate the tragedy of Heather Heyer’s murder into votes for the Democratic Party. Much of the crowd openly found this distasteful, leading many to leave early, while others called for a breakaway demonstration towards the end of the evening.
We find this text to be a potent criticism of Indivisible’s craven politicking:
We cannot separate yesterday’s murder from the structure of white-supremacist power in the United States. The police, the judges, the politicians have for the entirety of this nation’s history grounded their political base in the violent suppression and exploitation of people of color. Only now, when it has become politically opportune, have the Democrats and reformers made any effort to express their supposed opposition to alt-right and neo-nazi mobilization. But where was their outrage when the Traditionalist Youth Network was forming itself right here in Bloomington? Where were they when motorists were threatening and on numerous actions attempting to drive through peaceful demonstrations on these very streets?
Refining laws and electing politicians cannot dismantle white supremacy. The way to Honor Heather Heyer is to live as she died, fighting. It’s easier to attend SURJ meetings, finally cut your dreadlocks, and check off your daily call-a-congressman, than to struggle to materially, actually dismantle a centuries-old system of white power. With neo-nazis now openly marching and murdering leftists, let’s not get distracted with individual gestures of allyship, attending vigils to express abstract “solidarity”, or with electing one more Democrat, Republican, or “independent” who professionally pretends to solve the problem for us.
The truth is that the terrorist violence in Charlottesville did not magically appear out of nowhere. Fascists like the neo-nazis marching in Charlottesville, or the back-to-the-land white supremacists down in Paoli (that the Herald Times so enthusiastically promoted), do not appear out of nowhere. They are a paramilitary force, working on the same project of white power as Trump and the Fraternal Order of Police that endorsed him. You don’t have to look as far as Charlottesville to see the violence of white supremacy in action. To be fair, focus is hard. It’s difficult to train your eye on what’s important in life, especially when there are distracting, easy answers at hand.
Politicians and their local “organizer” allies know this, and their game (of thrones) is one of redirection. But if we take the question of fighting white supremacy seriously enough to take the time to refocus, it’s clear that there is plenty of work to be done right here, at our fingertips.
The Bloomington Police Department plays their PR game carefully. But even then, it’s a very thin veil over their classist and racist violence. It’s not a coincidence that the largest anti-racist movement in recent history, the Black Lives Matter movement, focused on dismantling the power of the police. It’s not a coincidence that it was a police officer in an unmarked car who was most recently threatened a peaceful Bloomington demonstration outside the jail (in defense of recently arrested homeless neighbors and friends). The BPD and Monroe County Jail have a recent and decades-old history of violence against people of color and the socio-economically excluded in Bloomington. It’s time to look at the whole system which perpetuates white supremacy, which includes BPD, and fight back.
Demo: Friday, Aug. 11, 11 a.m., outside the Indiana Department of Corrections headquarters, 302 W. Washington St. in downtown Indianapolis
Phone Zap: Any time on Friday, call Indiana Department of Corrections Commissioner Rob Carter at (317)233-6984 and demand that he not put into effect the policy banning all incoming mail if it’s not on lined paper and in a white envelope
Call to Action by Kwame ‘Beans’ Shakur, New Afrikan Liberation Collective:
“Prison Lives Matter” and “Amend the 13th: Abolish Legal Slavery in Amerika Movement” are seeking to get the people, i.e., family, friends, inmates and the outside movement, involved in the struggle to raise awareness and fight the cruel and inhuman treatment of prisoners, the daily violations of our human and civil rights, and the economic exploitation of our families. This can only come about if we educate the people to the politics of imprisonment and state repression, then organize and mobilize our families and supporters around these issues.
As we all know, those of us locked in these cages aren’t the only ones being affected – our families and loved ones are also doing time. If we are serious about changing our conditions, then it is fundamental that we take a more progressive stand against the Department of Corrections and the parasite corporations that attach themselves to the prison industrial slave complex to profit from our oppression, including Aramark, Global Tel Link, Evercam, JPay, Union Supply etc.
On April 1, 2017, the Indiana Department of Corrections implemented a new policy that targets our incoming mail: ALL mail must be handwritten on white lined paper in a white envelope. This policy restricts us from receiving any greeting cards on birthdays, Father’s Day, holidays etc., any typed letters or political documents, or any type of drawings from our kids!
Whether it’s simply more convenient, or out of necessity, our elderly family members with medical conditions like arthritis can’t handwrite their letters, and typing is the only way they can send us mail. With the increase of political education material like this very memo coming into the prisons with the intent to educate, agitate and organize prisoners, this new policy is also aimed to eradicate any such efforts.
This is blatant censorship and repression from the state. In their words, they “are going to see how it goes” from April to October before they actually put the policy into effect permanently. If there is no public outcry and resistance from the people on the outside against this policy, then they will have no reason to retreat: Once it goes into effect across the entire state, there will be little we can do.
The powers that are over Pendleton Correctional Facility are slowly attempting to turn this prison into a supermax facility, cutting us off completely from the outside world. Aside from the restriction of incoming mail, those of us like me who are housed on the G Cell House lock up unit (administrative disciplinary segregation) have also been stripped of our phone and video visitation the past 10 months. The policy states that we are entitled to phone privileges at least three times a week.
This cell house is only allowed visitors two days out of the week, Monday and Wednesday. With work and school during the week, it is extremely difficult for our loved ones to travel here during visitation hours. Fortunately, we were able to receive video visits on the JPay kiosk with our loved ones in the comfort of their own homes any day of the week – after work hours until 8 p.m.
However, the lieutenant of this cell house – not the facility or the DOC – recently made it to where we can only receive one 30-minute phone call per week. We can only receive video visits once a week, on the same day and time as our phone call.
We are locked in cages 24 hours a day. The courts and policy have determined that we are entitled to leave these cells for at least an hour of recreation five days a week; however, on average we may get rec once or twice a week, a direct violation of their own policy and procedure.
We have pushed our pens until the ink runs dry and filed the necessary grievances to seek relief. The same individuals who we file our paperwork on are the SAME individuals who respond to our claims, making the entire grievance process ineffective and contradictory.
If the policies and court rulings can be so irrelevant to these people, if the process we are told to follow in order to seek relief and correct such violations is ineffective, then where is the justice? Again, we’re being silenced and censored; we are powerless in these cages against the prison politics of prison autocracy.
Nobody is investigating or calling into question the death of an inmate who was excessively sprayed with multiple cans of mace, shot by pepper balls – a paintball gun that shoots paint balls filled with mace – and then left in a cell untreated to die last year!
For far too long, these people have gotten away with their crimes, without any blowback and resistance from the masses. For far too long, they have gotten away with the exploitation of our families through overpriced phone calls, vending machines in the visit room, JPay fees and commissary.
All across the country, we have formulations and prisoner advocacy organizations assisting us in our struggle to expose the prison industrial slave complex and fight for our rights. It is time that we organize and mobilize right here in our own back yard; our captors must come to learn that there will be consequences for their actions, that they will have to answer and face the people here in Indiana as well.
We are calling on our family, friends and comrades to gather in downtown Indianapolis on Friday, Aug. 11, at 11 a.m. outside the Department of Corrections building, 302 W. Washington St. We urge that ALL of us held captive do our collective part by encouraging loved ones to attend this demonstration and that our loved ones do their part by making copies of this memo, the “Prison Lives Matter” and NALC mission statements, spread the word and push the information for this demonstration on social media.
Contact us on Facebook at New.Afrikan.Liberation.Collective or email us at NALC_shakur@yahoo.com.
On behalf of the Prison Lives Matter campaign and Amend the 13th: Abolish Legal Slavery in Amerika Movement, One Love, One Struggle!
Kwame “Beans” Shakur, co-founder and chairman of the New Afrikan Liberation Collective
Send our brother some love and light: Michael Joyner (Kwame Shakur), 149677, Pendleton CF, 4490 W. Reformatory Rd., Pendleton IN 46064.
IDOC Watch’s call for a phone zap:
Starting in April, the Indiana Department of Corrections implemented a ban against all incoming mail not written on white lined paper in white envelopes. The ban is a means of political repression and attempt to limit prisoner support, as people can no longer receive documents, articles, cards on the holidays, or drawings from their children.
Call Indiana Department of Corrections Commissioner Rob Carter at (317)233-6984 and demand that the policy restricting any incoming mail not on lined paper and in a white envelope does not go into effect in October and that is harming those who are incarcerated, as well as friends and family on the outside.
Call the commissioner during the rally against the ban happening on Friday, Aug. 11, at 11 a.m outside of the Department of Corrections building at 302 W. Washington St. in Indianapolis.
This week, Bloomington Police began to occupy People’s Park, heightening policing and surveillance, harassing community members into leaving the park, and preventing food sharing and basic habitation of the park. This recent increase in police intimidation is part of a larger effort to drive poor people out of public spaces so that commerce can continue without interruption. Meanwhile, new luxury condos are built across the street. The social cleansing process enacted by the BPD aims to eradicate homeless people through constant intimidation, without addressing the root causes of homelessness in Bloomington.
For more than 50 years, People’s Park has been a vital space for political action, historical memory, and struggle in Bloomington. Shortly after the KKK firebombed a black social center, The Black Market, located on the park’s land in 1968, People’s Park was founded as a space of leisure and refuge open to all people, not just to the rich and white. Given this history, we must all do our part to ensure that People’s Park remains available to everyone.
Let’s celebrate the history of People’s Park and our ongoing diversity. Let’s stand together, eat together, and enjoy music together! We won’t allow the police to harass and arrest the most vulnerable members of the Bloomington community. Now’s our time to make sure that People’s Park lives up to its name — a place for everyone, for all people.
Come one, come all: workers, students, people without homes, non-human animal companions! Bring your game faces and your appetites.
Arts & Crafts (folks should feel inclined to bring lots of chalk)
Bring a dish/drink/food supplies if you can, and be creative in whatever other materials you feel it would be fun and/or useful to have.
Let’s make sure Bloomington stays the way we like it: full of space for folks with unique needs, creative and experimental.
Please forward widely and share the attached flyer online and in print!