Category Archives: News

Wildcat Strike in Indianapolis

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From Jacobin‘s excellent interview with Antoine Dangerfield:

“…Antoine Dangerfield’s recent viral video [is] a must-watch. A thirty-year-old welder in Indianapolis, Dangerfield worked for a construction contractor building a UPS hub. On Tuesday, he says that a small number of Latino workers (millwrights, welders, and conveyor installers, in his telling) working for a different contractor but in the same hub were ordered home after disobeying the orders of a white boss he calls racist.

In response, the entire group of workers — over a hundred, in Dangerfield’s estimation — walked out.

Dangerfield caught their wildcat strike on camera at the moment they walked off the job. In his video, he is positively giddy watching them shut down their massive workplace.

“They are not bullshitting!” he says as Latino workers walk off. Referring to the boss, he says, “They thought they was gonna play with these amigos, and they said, ‘aw yeah, we rise together, homie.’ And they leaving! And they not bullshitting!””

Read Dangerfield’s words here.

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Report from the March on City Council against the Bear-Cat

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We just belatedly received this report.  Please continue sending in news and analysis regarding demos and occupations.  Received and published:

Bloomington’s Black Lives Matter marched into the city council chambers on Wednesday March 29 in response to the Bloomington Police Department’s plans to purchase an armored Lenco Bearcat Assault Vehicle .  The city council meeting ended early, and all but three council members left the building as the march arrived.  Volan, Piedmont-Smith, and Ruff stayed to talk to the crowd of protestors.  Black Lives Matter organizers said they would shut down every city council meeting until the purchase decision is revoked.

The protestors cited information from their recently published “Bloomington People’s Report” on the armored vehicle, hosted at https://bloomingtonpeoplesreport.weebly.com/

Hunger Strike at Wabash Valley

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From IDOC Watch:

Several inmates at Wabash Valley Correctional Facility have announced that they have begun a hunger strike to protest their deteriorating conditions. Their immediate demands include: removal from camera monitored cells, relocation from abusive staff, and the cessation of tampering with food and the confiscation, reading and withholding of mail by administration. The announcement follows a sequence of escalating problems that have unfolded in the prison for the past several months, rekindling a too-long dormant culture of resistance to IDOC policies. Last year, a significant challenge to the censorship of Afro-Centric literature such as the San Francisco Bay View, which effects all prisons in the Indiana Department of Corrections, began a process of increasing clampdown on political prisoners. This was merely the spark which lit the fire. The hunger strike now in motion has its origins in the entire structure of the IDOC, in particular, and of mass incarceration, in general.

For some time, the IDOC has pursued a path of repression characterized by the isolation of inmates whom it perceives as threatening to the stability of their regime of oppression. These inmates are often kept in Indiana’s form of solitary confinement known as “Secure Control Units.” Wabash Valley has taken this practice, widely recognized to be a form of torture, to new extremes by indefinitely detaining inmates in isolation cells monitored 24 hours a day through video surveillance. Shaka Shakur, a political prisoner currently incarcerated at Wabash Valley, has demonstrated how these cells are intended to function as psychological torture, and the policies which are supposed to govern their use are flagrantly violated by administration.

The selective treatment of politically conscious inmates is not limited to isolation and surveillance, however. Prisons in Indiana have developed a parallel judicial system in which the civil protections available to free citizens are completely absent. Inmates are consistently penalized and charged with internal violations which can result in their placement in isolation or loss of “good time” which by Indiana Code cannot be regained. In these faux-courts, prisoners are deprived of any right to representation or possibility of viewing the “evidence” used against them. Charges are often brought as a form of reprisal, beginning with disciplinary reports filed by disgruntled or sadistic guards looking to punish inmates for refusing passive obedience to their oppression.

The increasingly severe forms of repression manifest on all levels of the IDOC and affect all inmates as well. Several trends have coalesced and finally culminated in an irreconcilable crisis. The current landscape of the IDOC is the result of these trends, primarily the entrenchment at the tops levels of executive administration of old-guard prison staff experienced in the ways of prisoner abuse, the construction of prison facilities in rural, economically depleted areas which produces a situation that pits the solidarity of largely euro/ “white” communities against predominately non-euro/ “white” prisoners, and finally the privatization of all aspects of prison operation and management. These trends mutual influence and extend one another, creating an increasingly antagonistic atmosphere, resolvable only through the initiative of prisoners in taking all measures to reassert their humanity.

The current crisis can be explained only by observing these facts. For example, guards in the Security Control Unit at Wabash Valley leverage their familial and professional ties to maintain impunity while threatening and intimidating inmates under their “protection.” The former commander of the SCU, Lt. Gary McMillin, consistently stated that he would “stand by” his guards whenever they filed disciplinary reports. Reports are supposed to be reviewed once filed and approved by the Lieutenant before any action can be taken against an inmate. In this case, those reviews were performed by Mr. McMillin’s wife, Mrs. S. McMillin. Her “reviews” tend to result in conviction rates that would make any prosecutor blush. The result of this circle of corruption? More good time lost, more years spent inside, more money to J-Pay, Union Supply, Aramark, and Global Tel-Link.

On the state level, the IDOC just this month “reviewed” its new mail restriction policies. As many know by now, inmates can no longer send or receive correspondence unless it is written on lined, white paper in a white envelope. The IDOC claimed this was to counter drug trafficking, but has provided zero data on the flow of drugs into the facility coming through mail. Ironically, the only confirmed source of trafficking in the recent past is that conducted by a former corrections officer at Wabash Valley. There are no indications that the mail ban will be overturned, and more inmates and their families are forced to go through J-pay for all correspondence and increasingly, visitations.

The current crisis is the latest iteration of the fundamentally racist and increasingly corporatist exploitation at work in the IDOC. The kinds of oppression outlined here are well-documented as ineradicable aspects of mass incarceration in Indiana. Indeed the condition in Indiana prisons was meticulously outlined in the 1997 Human Rights Watch Report, Cold Storage: Super-Maximum Security Confinement in Indiana. Since that time, conditions have only worsened. Now inmates are fighting back. Their selfless struggle deserves the widest possible, most dedicated support. IDOC watch firmly stands with Shaka Shakur and all the hunger strikers. We demand that their demands are met, and further that an independent investigation be permitted to inspect the facility. Those will be the first steps, and very far from the last, in a long march toward eradicating the unjust, racist prison system in Indiana and, one day, the united states.

Information on Wabash Valley and the case of Shaka Shakur can be found on our blog at idocwatch.org

Please call: Warden Richard Brown (812) 398-5050

IDOC Commissioner Robert Carter (317) 232-5711

IDOC Chief of Staff Randy Koester (317) 232-5711

Demand that the inmates on hunger strike be moved from abusive guards and camera-monitored cells, and that their mail and food be secured from tampering.

IDOC Watch

idocwatch.org

facebook.com/idocwatch

idocwatch@gmail.com

Resistance to Police Murder in Evansville

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From Where the River Frowns:

PDF of handbill from the vigil:  Thoughts on the Murder of Ricky Ard
More background here.
August 29, 2017:

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.

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Poster at the vigil reads “Rest In Power Ricky Ard 8.29.2017” (Photo: Where the River Frowns)

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.

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Sidewalk chalk outside the federal building reads “Bat vs 2 Guns = Excessive Force” (Photo: Where the River Frowns).

Sidewalk chalk outside the federal building calls attention to police murders across the U.S. this year (Photo: Where the River Frowns)

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Poster taped to a light post outside the federal building reads “Show me the body cam” (Photo: Where the River Frowns)

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Poster taped to a post outside the federal building reads “E is NOT for everyone. RIP Ricky Ard” (Photo: Where the River Frowns)

Community safety and civility discussion interrupted by Equity Collective

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From the Herald-Times:
By Jonathan Streetman

A community discussion about how to best serve people experiencing homelessness and to make downtown Bloomington safe for all was interrupted Saturday morning by those who felt they had been left out of the discussion altogether.

The working meeting at City Hall, which was announced by the city in a news release 48 hours prior, is part of an ongoing process organized by the Community Justice and Mediation Center as part of the Downtown Safety, Civility and Justice Initiative launched by Mayor John Hamilton in August.

Stage one identified perceptions of the challenges, and stage two
explored potential action ideas in response to these perceived problems, according to a city news release. The third stage, which was Saturday’s public input conversation, did not go off as planned.

As CJAM members were providing the crowd, which filled the Council Chambers to capacity, with updates on the first two stages and then began to discuss the meeting’s agenda, Nicci B of The Equity Collective and about a dozen other group members stood up to read a prepared statement.

The Equity Collective, Nicci said, believes that the task force
assembled is not representative of the Bloomington community, nor is it objective. This process, she continued, should have involved more of the people who are actually affected by the issues being discussed.

“This initiative has failed to position the needs of our community’s
most disenfranchised members as central to the conversation itself, as evidenced by a mediation process that has thus far produced a collection of ‘action ideas’ that largely ignore the root causes of poverty, addiction and other vulnerabilities,” the statement read. “Instead, the proposed strategies overwhelmingly advance business interests through the unjust criminalization and stigmatization of those whose safety is most at risk. We, The Equity Collective, cannot help but wonder whether the Safety, Civility, and Justice Initiative is only meant to serve
those who can afford it.”

The group also took umbrage with the fact that community members were only given 48 hours’ notice, a fact CJAM volunteer Lisa-Marie Napoli agreed was unfortunate. Napoli said she would address timeliness of announcements in the future.

“When we are dealing with people’s futures, we deserve more than 48 hours and zero information,” Nicci said in response.

The disruption continued for about 10 minutes as group members took turns reading the statement. During that time many individuals who had come to participate in the working meeting left the chambers and entered the hallway, where stations had been set up by the center to discuss a variety of issues, including housing, education, mental health, police relations and addictions and abuse.

By the time Nicci and the others finished reading the statement, the room had largely emptied.

About 50 individuals continued with the meeting in discussion groups, while Nicci and others continued to discuss their points with organizing members in the lobby. Members of the Equity Collective then left City Hall with about an hour and a half left in the meeting.

Napoli said she was disappointed that members of the disrupting group didn’t want to participate in Saturday’s discussion.

“This process was designed to be an inclusive process to all community members, to take a look at some starting ideas of solutions to discussing downtown safety and civility issues and to build on those,” said Napoli, who helped create the three-stage process before handing over their report to the task force. The discussions, she added, would also allow community members to grab onto ideas about what they can do at their level to make a difference.

“I respect democracy; I respect the voice and people’s right to protest. It’s ironic because this meeting is wholly designed to be inclusive,” she said.

Napoli said there was an entire open space in the lobby designed to
discuss new ideas that weren’t on CJAM’s list, and that the Equity
Collective’s list of demands would have been discussed there, if Napoli had been allowed to run the meeting as she had planned.

The center will now forward all information gathered to the Safety,
Civility and Justice Task Force for further study. Hamilton has asked that recommendations be made to him by early April 2017.

Anti-homeless signs promptly & illegally removed

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From the H-T:

Signs encouraging people to donate to nonprofit organizations rather than give to panhandlers were up for less than a week before most of them came down — and not with the city’s permission.

The city put up 28 signs last week around the downtown area that read, “Please help. Don’t encourage panhandling. Contribute to the solution. www.bloomington.in.gov/give.”

The web page includes a list of social service agencies that directly
provide services, including shelter/housing and food assistance, medical services, drug addiction treatment and education/workforce assistance, to those in need.

As of late Tuesday afternoon, 24 of those signs were missing, Mary
Catherine Carmichael, Bloomington’s communications director, said.

“We don’t know exactly under what circumstances they came down,” Carmichael said, though she added several businesses in the area have external surveillance systems that may have captured footage of whoever took the signs.

Carmichael said the city would like for the people who took the signs down to return them, but city officials will have additional signs created, if necessary.

Meanwhile, the city is looking at the incident as vandalism and will
deal with it as such.

“My hope would be that whoever did that might think better of their actions and decide maybe that wasn’t such a good idea, and, again, we would appreciate it if those were returned,” Carmichael said.

Two Rebellions in Indiana Jails

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From Where the River Frowns:

Inmates in Indiana’s jails have been tearing it up this month, with two rebellions in a week.

The first riot occurred on August 1st in Vanderburgh County Jail in Evansville where, according to the mainstream media, inmates refused to be handcuffed, flooded their jail cell, put soap on the floor to trip the guards when they entered and used bed bunks and mattresses as barricades and shields.

The second occurred in Henry County Jail on August 3rd and 4th where inmates set fire to mattresses and jail uniforms on two subsequent nights. The first fire was set by male inmates and the second, the next night, by female inmates. According to their captors, prisoners were attempting to deactivate the locks on their jail cell.

As usual, the mainstream media made no effort whatsoever to interview the inmates involved in the disturbances or to capture the potential reasons behind their rebellion. For now, we are unfortunately left wondering what may have caused these individuals to choose to fight back against their captors instead of keeping their heads down.


What we do know is that jailers are used to having the monopoly on violence, with at least 815 deaths in jails across the U.S. in the last year. Anyone who has been in jail knows that mistreatment and violence towards inmates is commonplace. For instance, in June of this year, Clinton “Boo” Gilkie was murdered in Monroe County Jail where he’d been held since he was 16 after a failed robbery using a toy gun.

The only thing that stands out in these recent rebellions in Indiana is that people decided to fight back.

Nine prisoners have been charged with various crimes in association with the riot at Vanderburgh County Jail. Please consider taking a moment to drop a line on these folks to show your support. All are still being held at the Vanderburgh County Jail and can be reached by sending a letter or card to: Inmate name and Number, 3500 N. Harlan Ave, Evansville, IN 47711

John Wallace                     3293
Kyndrick Hancock            214025
Kededrique Boyd             250147
Javon Burton                     68659
Brendan Cooper               169196
Robert  Henderson         121129
Stanley Morgan                101653
Cory Pierce                        54101
Seth Wrinkles                   137561