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Tuesday, July 13th, 2021 – Letter-writing to Xinachtli

11 July 2021 Comments off

WHAT: Political Prisoner Letter-Writing
WHEN: 7pm, Tuesday, July 13th, 2021
WHERE: YOUR HOME
COST: Free

Often when we write these updates we are conscious of trying to tie present conditions to the larger struggle, to contextualize (for ourselves at least) both the movement and the moment at hand. But sometimes stepping back a bit and looking through a more historical lens can be helpful for our sense of perspective.

For those of us concerned with supporting political prisoners in the belly of this particular beast, the month of July by the colonial calendar is instructive and offers several events to reflect on over the past century or so of struggle.  This is by no means a comprehensive list (as recent events have shown), and while the significance of random calendar dates can easily be overstated, the struggles and dedication of these comrades can not.

  • On July 18, 1918 Oaxacan-born revolutionary anarchist Ricardo Flores Magón was convicted of sending politically dangerous materials through the mail and sentenced to twenty-one years in prison.  He wrote that “a sentence of twenty-one years is a sentence of life for a man as old and worn out as I am.”  He died imprisoned in Leavenworth, Kansas November on 22, 1922, at fifty years old.
  • On July 14, 1921, a guilty verdict was announced in the murder trial of Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti. Judge Thayer praised the jury for their “supreme American loyalty.” The two Italian-born anarchists were later sentenced to death, which was carried out in August 1927.
  • On July 11, 1983, New African anarchist Kuwasi Balagoon  delivered his opening statement in the infamous Brink’s Trial, in which he stated: “i am a prisoner of war and i reject the crap about me being a defendant, and i do not recognize the legitimacy of this court.”

On July 18, 1996 a Texas sheriff went to arrest Alvaro Hernandez—also known as Xinachtli—at his home on trumped-up charges without a warrant. When the sheriff drew his gun, Alvaro disarmed him and fled. After eventually being captured, he was convicted and sentenced to 50 years in prison.

Which brings us to this week’s letter writing in which NYC ABC, in collaboration with Page One Collective, are encouraging you to write to Chicano political prisoner Xinachtli.

Xinachtli (Nahuatl, meaning “seed”) is an anarchist communist community organizer and Chicano movement revolutionary, currently imprisoned in Texas. Formerly known as Alvaro Luna Hernandez, he worked diligently in the barrio on civil and human rights issues, known widely for his legal skills. Gaining international recognition as the national coordinator of the Ricardo Aldape Guerra Defense Committee, Xinachtli was instrumental in helping to free Mexican national Aldape Guerra from Texas’ death row, where he had been framed for the murder of a police officer.

In July 1996 Xinachtli was arrested after disarming a County Sheriff who was attempting to shoot him. After defending himself at trial, Xinachtli was sentenced to 50 years in prison for aggravated assault, a charge he vehemently denies. While imprisoned, Xinachtli continues to write frequently, has helped to organize multiple prison strikes, and has been held in solitary confinement for the last 19 years and counting. Xinachtli is a prolific jailhouse lawyer, as referenced by Mumia Abu Jamal in his book Jailhouse Lawyers: Prisoners Defending Prisoners v the USA. Xinachtli assists many prisoners in seeking new trials, and filing suits against the repressive, inhumane Texas prison system. More information at https://freealvaro.net.

Please take the time to write a letter to Xinachtli (and share a photo of your completed envelopes with us online):

Alvaro Luna Hernandez
#255735
W.G. McConnell Unit,
3001 Emily Drive,
Beeville, Texas 78102
*Address envelopes to Alvaro Luna Hernández, cards/letters to Xinachtli.

Tuesday, June 29th – Letter-writing to Russell Maroon Shoatz

WHAT: Political Prisoner Letter-Writing
WHEN: 7pm, Tuesday, June 29th, 2021
WHERE: YOUR HOME
COST: Free

One year and one month to the day of George Floyd’s murder the state sentenced his murderer to 22 1/2 years in prison. Are we supposed to be happy or feel relieved? Those of us engaged in prisoner support work know plenty of folks that spend much more time inside for much less, but also know prison is hell anyway you slice it (we don’t like to get caught up in the arguments of what constitutes a long sentence). Regardless, we trust he’ll be well cared for in there. And no, we’re not happy. And no, we’re not relieved. They sacrificed one of their own to take the fall for the rest still working their beats. Meanwhile, cops continue to murder, migrants are detained at an increasing rate, and Trump is still holding rallies. The uprisings of 2020 were a hopeful promise of what is to come, and now one year later we’re here wondering if anything has changed. All we can do is to continue our organizing projects, our mutual aid projects, and our solidarity work. For us at NYC ABC, that is supporting political prisoners through letter writing efforts.

This week, NYC ABC and Page One Collective ask you to write to a Black liberation political prisoner, the truly implacable Russell Maroon Shoatz, himself accused of taking action against the brutality meted out by cops on Black communities. Russell Maroon Shoatz is a dedicated community activist, founding member of the Black Unity Council, former member of the Black Panther Party and soldier in the Black Liberation Army. In 1970, along with 5 others, Maroon was accused of attacking a police station, which resulted in a cop being killed. This attack was said to have been carried out in response to the rampant police brutality in the Black community. For 18 months Maroon functioned underground as a soldier in the Black Liberation Army. In 1972 he was captured. Twice he escaped—once in 1977 and again in 1980, but both times he was recaptured and today he is held in Pennsylvania where he is serving multiple life sentences. As with many of our imprisoned elders, Maroon faces health concerns and should immediately released. On June 17th 2021 there was an emergency action to get Russell his much needed chemo treatments which had been cancelled by DOC. Please stay tuned for more updates. 

Please take the time to write a letter to Maroon (and share a photo of your completed envelopes with us online):
Smart Connections/PA DOC
Russell Shoats #AF-3855
SCI-Dallas
Post Office Box 33028
St. Petersburg, Florida 33733

Tuesday, June 15th – Letter Writing for Imam Jamil Al-Amin

WHAT: Political Prisoner Letter-Writing Dinner
WHEN: 7pm sharp, Tuesday June 15th, 2021
WHERE: your home (or wherever you happen to be)
COST: Free

Sometimes it seems that the struggle for a free society is reduced to something so simple as the struggle to remember. The ruling class hates to be reminded that it wasn’t bootstraps but the ongoing violence of settler colonialism that bought them their Sunday brunch. Or that Stonewall wasn’t a commercial for a big box store, or an isolated event in the centuries of rebellions big and small by those on the losing side of patriarchal supremacy and its false binaries. And right now, as ‘we’ are ‘getting back to normal,’ the triumphalism that callously asserts the needs of domestic markets in the face of a still raging international pandemic insists that we forgot the suffering and wide scale preventable deaths that were all most of us could think about for the past year.  We are told to take off our masks, get back to work, and go to brunch, and to forget those who got sick and especially the hundreds of thousands who died. In a very similar way we are told that Black Panthers are comic book characters and fashion symbols to appropriate, safely ancient history if they were ever real at all; that Indigenous resistance to genocide is a thing of the past; that de-colonial freedom struggles were a ’boomer fad, and that the “united states” doesn’t have any political prisoners.

But what if we choose to remember?
What if we insist on remembering that those who resisted and fell, those who were captured, are human beings?
What if we got to know them as people with aches and pains and senses of humor and wisdom won through decades of principled struggle?
What would happen if we remember that the struggle continues?

This week NYC ABC and Page One Collective are asking you write to Imam Jamil Al-Amin (formerly known as H. Rap Brown). Jamil Al-Amin is a long time community leader and organizer, falsely imprisoned for killing a sheriff’s deputy in Georgia. He was convicted in 2002 and after some time in Georgia state prison, the state decided to bury him in federal custody at the notorious Florence Supermax in Colorado before being held in Arizona. The Imam has bone cancer and other health issues, so his family and supporters are currently pushing for an appeal to his trial and for his return to Georgia to receive better medical care and to be able to take a more active role in appealing his case. More information on what you can do is available at whathappened2rap.com

We are asking folks to take the time to write a letter to Jamil (and share a photo of your completed envelopes with us online). Please note that as it states on his support site “Imam Jamil is not receiving proper medical care and is now blind as a result.” We are suggesting to send typewritten letters in a large font (size 18 font and over) to let him and those holding him captive know that he is far from forgotten:

Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin #99974-555
USP Tucson
Post Office Box 24550
Tucson, Arizona 85734

Tuesday, May 18th – Letter Writing to Dr. Mutulu Shakur

WHAT: Political Prisoner Letter-Writing Dinner
WHEN: 7pm sharp, Tuesday, May 18th, 2021
WHERE: your home (or wherever you happen to be)
COST: Free

With the COVID related restrictions and guidelines around this country beginning to be lifted or eased, it is as important as ever to recognize those inside prison walls who remain captive by the white supremacist structures that have continued to thrive throughout this pandemic. Between the proliferation of this deadly virus behind bars, the inequity in treatment of the disease to people of color, the unending stream of police killing Black folks, and the attempts to literally erase the already vastly understated mentions of America’s ongoing racist colonial history from school books, this country is having a historic year of maintaining white supremacy. Just this month it was revealed that the remains of the victims of the Philadelphia police bombing of the MOVE family’s house were either sent to be “studied” and gawked at by elite museums and universities or ordered by city officials to be burnt to ash. This latest obscene iteration of this country’s mission to control Black bodies with cruelty and indignity is just one of an immeasurable number. With these injustices fresh in our minds, we turn to political prisoner Dr. Mutulu Shakur, who has actively fought against that bodily control by dedicating his life to the physical, political, and social health and well being of the Black community.

From Dr. Shakur’s support site:

“Dr. Mutulu Shakur is a New Afrikan (Black) man whose primary work has been in the area of health. He is a doctor of acupuncture and was a co-founder and director of two institutions devoted to improving health care in the Black community.

Mutulu was born on August 8, 1950, in Baltimore, Maryland as Jeral Wayne Williams. At age seven he moved to Jamaica, Queens, New York City with his mother and younger sister. His political and social consciousness began to develop early in his life. His mother suffered not only from being Black and female, but was also blind. These elements constituted Shakur’s first confrontation with the state, while assisting his mother to negotiate through the maze that made up the social service system. Through this experience, Shakur learned that the system did not operate in the interests of Black people and that Black people must control the institutions that affect their lives.

Since the age 16, Dr. Shakur has been a part of the New Afrikan Independence Movement. As a part of this movement, Dr. Shakur has been a target of the illegal Counterintelligence Program carried out by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (COINTELPRO). This was a secret police strategy used in the U.S. starting in the 1960s to destroy and neutralize progressive and revolutionary organizations. It is believed that Dr. Shakur’s resistance to this program led to his arrest and trial.

During the late sixties, Dr. Shakur was politically active and worked with the Revolutionary Action Movement (RAM), a Black Nationalist group that struggled for Black self-determination and socialist change in America. He was a member of the Provisional Government of the Republic of New Afrika, which endorsed the founding of an independent New Afrikan (Black) Republic and the establishment of an independent Black state in the southern U.S. Dr. Shakur also worked very closely with the Black Panther Party, supporting Lumumba and Zayd Shakur.

In 1970, Dr. Shakur was employed by the Lincoln Detox (detoxification) Community (addiction treatment) Program as a political education instructor. His role evolved to include counseling and treatment of withdrawal symptoms with acupuncture. Dr. Shakur became certified and licensed to practice acupuncture in the State of California in 1976. Eventually he became the Program’s Assistant Director and remained associated with the program until 1978.

From 1978 to 1982, Dr. Shakur was the Co-Founder and Co-Director of the Black Acupuncture Advisory Association of North America (BAAANA) and the Harlem Institute of Acupuncture. Where, at Lincoln, Dr. Shakur had managed a detox program recognized as the largest and most effective of its kind by the National Institute of Drug Abuse, National Acupuncture Research Society and the World Academic Society of Acupuncture, at BAAANA he continued his remarkable work and also treated thousands of poor and elderly patients who would otherwise have no access to treatment of this type. Many community leaders, political activists, lawyers and doctors were served by BAAANA and over one hundred medical students were trained in the discipline of acupuncture.

By the late 1970’s Dr. Shakur’s work in acupuncture and drug detoxification was both nationally and internationally known and he was invited to address members of the medical community around the world. Dr. Shakur lectured on his work at many medical conferences, and was invited to the People’s Republic of China. In addition in his work for the Charles Cobb Commission for Racial Justice for the National Council of Churches, he developed their anti-drug program.

Dr. Shakur has five biological children and several grandchildren who he maintains loving relationships with despite his incarceration.  He was an inspiration for many of the positive messages in his late adoptive son, Tupac’s, musical work.”

In 1987 Dr. Shakur was sentenced to 60 years in prison after being targeted by US federal authorities with charges under the RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) Act and for aiding in Assata Shakur’s escape from prison.

Please join NYC ABC and Page One Collective from wherever you are as we write letters to Dr. Shakur:

Dr. Mutulu Shakur #83205-012
FMC Lexington
Post Office Box 14500
Lexington, Kentucky 40512

Though Dr. Shakur appreciates the mail that folks send him, he is unable to respond to every letter personally. Other ways to support Dr. Shakur can be found at mutulushakur.com

BK/NY – Tuesday, April 6th– Letter Writing To Ruchell “Cinque” Magee

WHAT: Political Prisoner Letter-Writing
WHEN: 7pm, Tuesday, April 6th, 2021
WHERE: YOUR HOME
COST: Free

Image courtesy of freeruchellmagee.org

We are still mourning the loss of Chip Fitzgerald who died last week due to the neglect of the California prison system. But as the saying goes, “mourn the dead, but fight like hell for the living.” And so we must continue the struggle as Chip was not and is not the only elder still locked up, punished only for their fight for liberation. In that spirit, this week NYC ABC and Page One Collective encourage folx at home to write to Ruchell “Cinque” Magee, who is currently serving his 58th year in prison.

Ruchell Magee was unjustly captured in 1962 and given trumped-up charges. He is now 82 years old, forced to suffer mentally and physically due to the poor conditions inside California’s prison camps. With the COVID-19 crisis raging on, Ruchell needs your support and action so that he can be released, spend time with his loved ones, and better his community. After 58 years of injustice, enough is enough. Free Ruchell Magee now! More information here: freeruchellmagee.org

Please take the time to write a letter to Cinque (and share a photo of your completed envelopes with us online):

Ruchell Magee #A92051
#T 115
California Medical Facility
Post Office Box 2000
Vacaville, California 95696-2000

BK/NY – Tuesday, March 23rd – Letter Writing To Joe-Joe Bowen

WHAT: Political Prisoner Letter-Writing
WHEN: 7pm, Tuesday, March 23rd, 2021
WHERE: YOUR HOME
COST: Free

As spring rolls in across the northern hemisphere, every bird seems to be busy building nests, streets and parks are filled with neighbors enjoying the warmer air, and the sun is shining longer and brighter. As much as those of on the outside welcome the seasonal renewal, it would be remiss of us to not also give time and energy to our friends and comrades for whom freedom is continually denied. Solidarity is perennial. In light of this, we keep going on with our bi-weekly letter-writing events, which remain socially distanced for the time being due to the ongoing pandemic. We will return to in-person events once it seems responsibly safe to do so, though we are not looking forward to returning to any “normal” that includes complacency with settler-colonial white supremacy.

This week please join NYC ABC and Page One Collective in writing to Joe-Joe Bowen. A native of Philadelphia, Joe-Joe was a young member of the “30th and Norris” street gang before his incarceration politicized him. Released in 1971, his outside activism was cut short a week following his release when Joe-Joe was confronted by an officer of the notoriously brutal Philadelphia police department. The police officer was killed in the confrontation, and Bowen fled. After his capture and incarceration, Bowen became a Black Liberation Army combatant, defiant to authorities at every turn. In 1973, Joe-Joe assassinated Holmesberg prison’s warden and deputy warden as well as wounded the guard commander in retaliation for intense repression against Muslim prisoners in the facility.  In 1981, Bowen led a six-day standoff with authorities when he and six other captives took 39 hostages at Graterford Prison as a freedom attempt and protest of the prison conditions. More information here.

Please take the time to write a letter to Joe-Joe (and share a photo of your completed envelopes with us online):
Smart Communications/PA DOC
Joseph Bowen AM4272
SCI Fayette
Post Office Box 33028
Saint Petersburg, Florida 33733
*Address cards/letters to Joe-Joe.

BK/NY – Tuesday, February 9th – Letter Writing To Kings Bay Plowshares 7

WHAT: Political Prisoner Letter-Writing
WHEN: 7pm, Tuesday, February 9th, 2021
WHERE: YOUR HOME
COST: Free

It’s winter here on the stolen land we call New York City. Winter is billed as a time to slow down and recharge, but for most of us under capitalism that is a fallacy. And while the work of the state doesn’t slow down for a snowstorm, neither does our obligation to fight against it. For NYC ABC and Page One Collective, that means continuing to support political prisoners. Please join us this week in writing the Kings Bay Plowshares 7 (KBP7), many of whom have started their sentences in the last couple of months.

The Kings Bay Plowshares 7 are seven Catholic plowshares activists who entered Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base in St. Mary’s, Georgia on April 4th, 2018. They went to make real the prophet Isaiah’s command to “beat swords into plowshares.”

The seven chose to act on the 50th anniversary of the assassination of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who devoted his life to addressing what he called the “triple evils of militarism, racism, and materialism.” Carrying hammers and baby bottles of their own blood, the seven attempted to convert weapons of mass destruction. In October 2019, the seven were convicted of all four charges. More information at kingsbayplowshares7.org.

Below are the addresses that we currently have for the folx who have started their sentences and have confirmed that they want correspondence. Father Stephen Kelly is currently in transit and Clare Grady will start on February 10, shortly after this post is published. Be sure to check back next month for the updated issue of the Illustrated Guide to Political Prisoners and Prisoners of War, which will have updated addresses.

Please take the time to write a letter to KBP7 (and share a photo of your completed envelopes with us online):
Clare Grady #01264-052
FPC Alderson
Glen Ray Road, Box A
Alderson, West Virginia 24910

Martha Hennessy #22560-021
FCI Danbury
Route 37
Danbury, Connecticut 06811

Patrick O’Neill #14924-018
FCI Elkton
Post Office Box 10
Lisbon, Ohio 44432

Carmen Trotta #22561-021
FCI Otisville
Satellite Camp
Post Office Box 1000
Otisville, New York 10963

BK/NY – Tuesday, January 12th – Letter Writing To David Gilbert

WHAT: Political Prisoner Letter-Writing
WHEN: 7pm, Tuesday, January 12th, 2021
WHERE: YOUR HOME
COST: Free

It’s our first every-other-week political prisoner letter-writing event of 2021 and we are starting off by writing to David Gilbert–someone close to us, both physically and in spirit. For this first event of the year, NYC ABC and Page One Collective are asking you to continue to write to from home, staying safe, while also keeping our imprisoned comrades front and center.


David Gilbert, a longtime anti-racist and anti-imperialist, first became active in the Civil Rights movement in 1961. In 1965, he started the Vietnam Committee at Columbia University; in 1967 he co-authored the first Students for a Democratic Society pamphlet naming the system “imperialism;” and he was active in the Columbia strike of 1968. He went on to spend a total of 10 years underground, building a clandestine resistance.

David has been imprisoned in New York State since late 1981, when a unit of the Black Liberation Army along with allied white revolutionaries tried to get funds for the struggle by robbing a Brinks truck. This resulted in a shoot-out in which a Brinks guard and two cops were killed. David is serving a sentence of 75 years to life under New York State’s “felony murder” law, whereby all participants in a robbery, even if they are unarmed and non-shooters, are equally responsible for all deaths that occur. While in prison, David has been a pioneer for peer education on AIDS and has continued to write and advocate against oppression. He’s been involved with the annual Certain Days: Freedom for Political Prisoners calendar since 2001 and has written two books– No Surrender and Love and Struggle. More information: bit.do/DavidGilbert

Please take the time to write a letter to David Gilbert (and share a photo of your completed envelopes with us online):
David Gilbert #83-A-6158
Shawangunk Correctional Facility
Post Office Box 700
Wallkill, New York 12589

BK/NY – Tuesday, August 25th – Black August Letter Writing

WHAT: Political Prisoner Letter-Writing
WHEN: 7pm, Tuesday, August 25th, 2020
WHERE: YOUR HOME
COST: Free

Due to the pandemic and uprisings against white supremacist policing (redundant, we know), many of us are too overwhelmed to even notice the full-blown war being waged by cops and the ruling class. It is real and it is continuing. And of course there is another war—the war against folks imprisoned for their political beliefs and actions. And here’s where we bridge the two. Nearing the end of Black August, NYC ABC and Page One Collective will be sending letters to Black revolutionary political prisoners and there’s an easy (too easy? POSSIBLY!) way for you to help, just by writing from home. Please post a photo of your addressed envelope on social media and tag us (with your return address blurred out) and we will share it. Use Page One’s recent zine, “Current Political Prisoners of Black Liberation Movements,” for up-to-date addresses.

Tuesday, July 14th – Letter-writing to Xinachtli

WHAT: Political Prisoner Letter-Writing
WHEN: 7pm, Tuesday, July 14th, 2020
WHERE: YOUR HOME

COST: Free
alvaro luna hernandez xinachtli 2020_FBAs efforts build to coordinate support for those arrested and facing repression as a result of the uprising against cops killing Black folks (and policing in general), the state is using federal grand juries and sending agents to knock on doors in hopes of gathering evidence. Locals cops and overzealous bootlicking reactionaries have murdered protestors in an attempt to directly stop them and intimidate others. And of course the state is using this moment in history to further punish those already imprisoned—with lockdowns, transfers, neglect, and outright brutality. One way to support those in prison is through the simple act of writing a letter. This week NYC ABC, in collaboration with Page One Collective, are encouraging you to write to Chicano political prisoner Xinachtli.

Xinachtli, fka Alvaro Luna Hernández, is a Chicano-Mexicano political prisoner sentenced to 50 years in prison for aggravated assault on a cop when he disarmed a sheriff attempting to shoot him.

Deeply effected by witnessing the murder of one of his friends by a known racist cop (yes, it’s redundant), Xinachtli dedicated his life to fighting police brutality, especially as it was manifest against the Chicano community. From 1976 through 1990, Xinachtli was falsely accused of murder (and after public outcry eventually released) and severely beaten by police, all the result of his work to end police brutality in Houston, Texas.

In 1996, some corny county sheriff came to Xinachtli’s house, allegedly to arrest him for robbery (side note: the robbery charge was summarily dismissed). The cop didn’t have an arrest warrant and when Xinachtli, unarmed, questioned the cop’s abuse of power, the cop pulled his gun. Before he could shoot, Xinachtli disarmed the cop without injuring him, and fled.

Upon his capture, Xinachtli was found guilty and sentenced to an unbelievable 50 years in prison. Since his imprisonment, he has been denied access to library materials, faced increasing censorship of his mail, and had to deal with retaliation from prison staff over his filing of grievances.

Most recently, the state is subjecting Xinachtli to a campaign of harassment and repeated discriminatory cellblock assignments, although he has violated no prison rule.

Please take the time to write a letter to Xinachtli (and share a photo of your completed envelopes with us online):
Xinachtli* #255735
James V Allred Unit
2101 FM 369 North
Iowa Park, Texas 76367
*Address envelopes to Alvaro Luna Hernández, cards/letters to Xinachtli.