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(en) US, ROB LOS RICOS: Statement from the "Hole"

From Chuck0 <chuck@mutualaid.org>
Date Mon, 20 Jan 2003 08:00:14 -0500 (EST)

      A - I N F O S  N E W S  S E R V I C E

> posted by Gumby Cascadia 
Anarchists in Trouble
Watch your BACK!
On Jan. 9th, anarchists Rob Thaxton and Brian McCarvill were sanctioned with 
120 days in the Disciplary Segregation Unit at Oregon State Penitentiary. The 
offence listed on their Misconduct Reports is "Unauthorized Organiztion I", 
but the hearings officer told me that she found me "guilty of continuing to 
be involved with the anarchist movement." The Oregon Department of 
Corrections, and OSP in particular, have taken it upon themselves to act as 
thought police and punish people for their political views. The act which 
inspired this punishment is so petty as to be laughable:  we had asked people 
to send us mail. When people responded by the dozens, the prisoncrats took 
offense and sent us to the hole. One day, I'll look back at this time and 
laugh. Right now, though, this isn't very funny- sitting here without my 
guitar, books, magazines, income from my job in the prison infirmary, almost 
no chance for visits, listening to idiotic conversations between people 
shouting from one cell emblazened with swastikas to another. This whole 
episode revolves around symbols and their power, though apparently OSP staff 
have fewer worries about swastikas than they do about circle-a's, the 
"anarchy" symbol.

It's the little things.

Since I was first incarcerated here at OSP, the prison authorities have been 
overly concerned with my politics. I am routinely denied materials they think 
crosses some vague boundary of unacceptability. UK literature proffessor, the 
late John Moore's book examining anarchist tendencies in "primitive" 
societies was forbidden. Canadian art professor Allan Antliff's book on 
anarchist influence in modern art was allowed.

It was evident to me from the beginning that this was a bit arbitrary, and I 
tried to challenge their designation of anarchists as a Security Threat 
Group, and the circle-a symbol as an STG symbol. What this has come down to 
over the ensuing years is that I can receive anything, even if it has the 
word "Anarchy" splashed across the pages in 4-inch letters, but I can't have 
anything that contains a circle-a symbol. This has been used to deny me 
publications which featured photos of demonstrations, where a circle-a symbol 
on a patch on the pants of one of the participants was clearly visible. 
Other, similar violations were give because circle-a symbols could be seen 
among the graffiti in the background of some photographs.  And, since most 
anarchist publications usually exhibit a circle-a in some manner or another, 
this gives the prisoncrats an excuse to prohibit them. In short, I am being 
cut off from contact with other anarchists and to a large extent, any mention 
of anarchist activities, or even activities in which anarchists participate - 
such as mass demonstrations against economic summit meetings and the war in 
Iraq. The prisoncrats even made it forbidden for people to mark or cut out 
such offensive circle-a's in order to make their publication palatable for 
the prisoncrats.

I could challenge this in court, and have contemplated doing so, but - for 
one thing - the case would likely drag of for years and still not be resolved 
before I'm released in Oct. '06. Also, with my experience with courtrooms in 
the past, I know there is little hope for much sympathy, much less a fair 
hearing. Courts tend to back up prisoncrats' dictatorships.

Lately, though, I've become more and more angry as fewer people write or send 
literature to me, due to prisoncratic interference. With less mail making it 
in, each Mail Violation Notice I receive angers and frustrates me all the 
more. The Oregon Department of Corrections does not have the right to limit 
my communications with people who hold similar political views.  I am being 
isolated, at a time when the actions of the Bush Junta, and his family's 
dreams of a New World Order, demand that everyone who cherishes life and 
cares about their fellow humans' well-being speak out and take action against 
him and the NWO.

I'm in prison for being involved in a street battle with the Eugene Police 
Department, as part of one of the many "anti-globalization" days-of-action 
that rocked the world from '99-'01. Of all the people arrested around the 
world during these actions, as far as I know, I'm the only one still in 
prison. Like I mentioned above, the prisoncrats have been concerned about 
having someone with more that 20 years of activist experience, much of it as 
an organizer. Those two words together, added to the fact that I'm an 
anarchist, spells out "Riot" to the prisoncrats - one of the charges I was 
convicted of, by the way.  While incarcerated, I've tried to remain active, 
writing letters, sending contributions to anarchist publications and 
encouraging anarchists to be more involved in supporting prisoners.

The prisoncrats and I have been going back and forth over the mail issue for 
years now. What it comes down to is their arbitrary use of authority. There 
is no rational reason for them to deny anything entering their facilities 
just because there is a circle-a somewhere in its pages. Their entire 
argument is "Because we say so."

So, rather than go to the courts, rather that waste my time arguing with 
them, I did what I tend to do - I organized an anarchist protest. I asked 
people outside to send postcards with a circle-a and the caption: "This is 
not a gang symbol." Then, I forgot about it.

A little while later, since the holiday season was upon us, the prisoners 
here were allowed - as we are every year- to make 15 minute videos to send to 
our families and friends. From what I've heard since then, there are a number 
of people upset over my video. Not the message - it was just me reading 
poetry and playing my guitar. No, the Authorities were angry because they 
didn't review the tape before it went out. Who knows what diabolical 
instructions were sent on that tape - and to whom? The OSP activites crew 
don't keep such records, to ensure the privacy and safety of the recipients. 
Someone is very angry about that.

On, Jan. 2 ('03) Benny Ward, the STG manager for ODOC, came to visit me. He 
wanted me to move out of my cell, which I share with Brian McCarvill. Brian 
is involved in a lawsuit against ODOC/OSP over using the circle-a symbol as a 
reason to deny mail into their institutions. He implied that there would be 
consequences if I didn't move. Brian and I discussed this and decided it 
wasn't necessary for us to move.

Five days later, we were given Misconduct Reports, concerning 52 items of 
mail sent to us, and charged with being part of an unauthorized organization. 
Suddenly, Mr. Wards' visit began to make a little more sense. ODOC is being 
pressured from above to do something about us bad ol' anarchists.  Our 
lawsuits are costing them money, and the feds (rightly) think ODOC are fools 
who can't keep track of persons of interest within their institutions.  To 
illustrate what great fools they are, it is illegal for prisons to retaliate, 
or even threaten to retaliate, against prisoners for bringing lawsuits 
against them. They peeled that banana, threw the skin on the floor and 
slipped on it themselves.

Two days later, Brian and I were sanctioned to spend 4 months in the hole, 
apiece. We are being singled out for repression because of our political 
views and because we stand up for our rights as human beings.

[For more info about Rob Thaxton, check out http://www.breakthechains.net or 
write directly to Rob at: Robert Thaxton # 12112716 OSP 2605 State St. Salem, 
OR 97310]

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