East Bay Prisoner Support Report-back
Greetings from East Bay Prisoner Support. At the years end we feel as a group, as comrades, as a link to the outside, and as a vessel for communication, it is invaluable that we take a moment to reflect on what we've done recently, as well as forecast future projects. Moreover we hope that those of you with gaps of knowledge about our project will gain some insight by reading this report-back. This project is deeply personal, and with that in mind we hope this serves as an invitation to enjoy our resources and find us.
The first thing to mention is that we have been doing E.B.P.S. for five years and although the lineup has shifted we feel solid as a group. This comes from a grown affinity for one another. We share our project as well as friendship. This is a starting point for realizing everything else.
The recent uprisings in Oakland have been inspiring for us. The intensity with which we resisted the police and the systems they uphold was gestated through the militancy of the Oscar Grant Riots and the whole lineage of resistance that came before them. The creation of new affinities, new contested spaces, and new desires allow us to find breath. It is clear that FTP (Fuck The Police) and ACAB (All Cops are Bastards) are heartening incantations from here on out. We had many friends and comrades who landed charges during the Occupy whirlwind. There were over 1000 arrests in the Bay, luckily most of these arrestees had no charges filed. Several Oakland rebels are still in jail, and a few are facing jail time soon. For them we have offered solidarity, court support, collaboration with anti-repression groups, letter writing, and fundraising.
Last year we designed a distro catalog, with some remarks about the various systems of domination we are up against and the resistances that challenge them. We offered a collection of zines and writings that resonate with these themes. As the year ends we are aware that these texts are not sufficient for reflecting our truest desires for communication and connection. Being personally invested and engaged in the texts we offer is vital to our project. Thus we plan to design an insert with extra titles, including some Spanish language ones. This insert may be redone every few months to include new and exciting titles.
The stability of our project hinges on relatively minimal infrastructure: time, energy, space, money, and affinity. We have had partnerships with local anarchist infoshops in the Bay over the years to help make much of this organization possible. Currently The Holdout, an anarchist social center in Oakland, has a design station that allows us to print and produce our materials. We rely on modest contributions from comrades or our own pockets for most of the costs of stationary, stamps, printer ink, etc. We facilitate bimonthly letter writing nights, and table at events sporadically. We hope to have more events of our own design in the next year.
Early this year we settled our lawsuit against the FBI and UC Berkeley after a four year legal battle stemming from the August 2008 raid on the Long Haul including our office. The FBI and UC police claimed they were investigating threatening emails sent from computers inside our building. While we know this was a fishing expedition and that the cops will find any excuse to kick in doors of anarchists, we sued on the grounds that they had an over broad warrant and illegal search. The settlement awarded us 100,000 dollars, most of which went to our lawyers from the EFF and ACLU. The rest was split between us and the Long Haul. In the end we decided to give the money to the Oakland anti-repression committee. While we found the lawsuit tedious and invasive, and most of the concessions were irrelevant to our goals (policy changes, protocols, fake apologies, etc.) we nonetheless feel satisfied knowing the state lost millions of dollars in the suit.
We have developed a blog, eastbayprisonersupport.wordpress.com, in recent months as a conduit for words that attempt to describe the current anti-prison and anti-police explosion in the Bay. This is also a site for keeping people abreast of repression in the Bay Area and elsewhere. The blog seems to be useful as a method for sharing events, listing addresses of comrades inside, and cultivating awareness of our project. We hope to gain feedback that inspires us to take off in new directions, to offer more applicable and exciting texts, and to have more people join the anti-prison advance.
We are currently taking steps to increase the number of prisoners who receive our distro catalog. We are doing this through sending our distro catalog to our networks on the inside and by putting advertisements in publications that outreach to prisoners. We are aware that our capacity for connection has not been reached and we hope to invite more prisoners to join in our conspiracy of ideas. At the heart of this letter is that we want more communication with those inside, so spread the word and spread the fire.
Holiday time is rough for those locked up as well as all of us trapped in an alienated existence that suffocates autonomy, creativity, and a life without measure. We desire a fire that warms up the cold, callous, dying world we all find ourselves in, an inferno that sends the flames over walls, through the yards, and straight to the iron bars, melting away the stifling, sickening barriers to freedom and flight. May the dreams of fire keep you warm on these days to come. May our conspiratorial bond offer a way out.
Feel free to distribute this update far and wide and write us at P.O. Box 22449, Oakland, CA 94609.