political repression

Solitary in Iran Nearly Broke Me. Then I Went Inside America's Prisons

We throw thousands of men in the hole for the books they read, the company they keep, the beliefs they hold. Here's why.

 

IT'S BEEN SEVEN MONTHS since I've been inside a prison cell. Now I'm back, sort of. The experience is eerily like my dreams, where I am a prisoner in another man's cell. Like the cell I go back to in my sleep, this one is built for solitary confinement. I'm taking intermittent, heaving breaths, like I can't get enough air. This still happens to me from time to time, especially in tight spaces. At a little over 11 by 7 feet, this cell is smaller than any I've ever inhabited. You can't pace in it.

Like in my dreams, I case the space for the means of staying sane. Is there a TV to watch, a book to read, a round object to toss? The pathetic artifacts of this inmate's life remind me of objects that were once everything to me: a stack of books, a handmade chessboard, a few scattered pieces of artwork taped to the concrete, a family photo, large manila envelopes full of letters. I know that these things are his world.

"So when you're in Iran and in solitary confinement," asks my guide, Lieutenant Chris Acosta, "was it different?" His tone makes clear that he believes an Iranian prison to be a bad place.

He's right about that. After being apprehended on the Iran-Iraq border, Sarah Shourd, Josh Fattal, and I were held in Evin Prison's isolation ward for political prisoners. Sarah remained there for 13 months, Josh and I for 26 months. We were held incommunicado. We never knew when, or if, we would get out. We didn't go to trial for two years. When we did we had no way to speak to a lawyer and no means of contesting the charges against us, which included espionage. The alleged evidence the court held was "confidential."

What I want to tell Acosta is that no part of my experience—not the uncertainty of when I would be free again, not the tortured screams of other prisoners—was worse than the four months I spent in solitary confinement. What would he say if I told him I needed human contact so badly that I woke every morning hoping to be interrogated? Would he believe that I once yearned to be sat down in a padded, soundproof room, blindfolded, and questioned, just so I could talk to somebody?

I want to answer his question—of course my experience was different from those of the men at California's Pelican Bay State Prison—but I'm not sure how to do it. How do you compare, when the difference between one person's stability and another's insanity is found in tiny details? Do I point out that I had a mattress, and they have thin pieces of foam; that the concrete open-air cell I exercised in was twice the size of the "dog run" at Pelican Bay, which is about 16 by 25 feet; that I got 15 minutes of phone calls in 26 months, and they get none; that I couldn't write letters, but they can; that we could only talk to nearby prisoners in secret, but they can shout to each other without being punished; that unlike where I was imprisoned, whoever lives here has to shit at the front of his cell, in view of the guards?

"There was a window," I say. I don't quite know how to tell him what I mean by that answer. "Just having that light come in, seeing the light move across the cell, seeing what time of day it was—" Without those windows, I wouldn't have had the sound of ravens, the rare breezes, or the drops of rain that I let wash over my face some nights. My world would have been utterly restricted to my concrete box, to watching the miniature ocean waves I made by sloshing water back and forth in a bottle; to marveling at ants; to calculating the mean, median, and mode of the tick marks on the wall; to talking to myself without realizing it. For hours, days, I fixated on the patch of sunlight cast against my wall through those barred and grated windows. When, after five weeks, my knees buckled and I fell to the ground utterly broken, sobbing and rocking to the beat of my heart, it was the patch of sunlight that brought me back. Its slow creeping against the wall reminded me that the world did in fact turn and that time was something other than the stagnant pool my life was draining into.

When, after five weeks, my knees buckled and I fell to the ground utterly broken, sobbing and rocking to the beat of my heart, it was the patch of sunlight that brought me back.

Here, there are no windows.

 

a partial POLICE STATE UPDATE & VIDEO recommendations (pg9 Days of Action 2012 booklet)

a partial POLICE STATE UPDATE

The Police state has leapt forward in the last year on every level. At the federal level we now have unmanned drones flying over our cities and states courtesy of the CIA. http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/2012/0616/Drones-over-America.-Are-they-spying-on-you

We have the codification in law of indefinite detention without trial. When the current president signed the NDAA National Defense Authorization Act he signed a law that would allow for the arrest and indefinite detention of citizens without trial.   http://www.aclu.org/blog/tag/ndaa

The government had been doing this to the undocumented for years in detention centers run by ICE in the U.S. and by the CIA and Military abroad. http://www.godlikeproductions.com/forum1/message1620097/pg1

We have the Justice department conspiring with local government to deprive patients of their life saving medicine. The Hummingbird dispensary was driven out of business and the city still will not permit others to fill the need for cannabis based treatments in the community.

http://www.times-standard.com/localnews/ci_21589952/hummingbird-healing-center-closing-its-doors-eureka-marijuana

The local government has gone to the extreme of further criminalizing sleep in the summer of 2012, making it a misdemeanor to sleep outside in the city. 

http://www.times-standard.com/ci_20897319/eureka-adds-traffic-cop-2012-13-budget-council?IADID=Search-www.times-standard.com-www.times-standard.com

They were following in the footsteps of the county board of supervisors that had used a phony emergency to outlaw dissent at the courthouse. 

The county action was a reaction to their inability to respond to the issues exposed by Occupy Eureka. The District Attorney and other county government conspired to create a climate of fear about the protest and then used violent repression to remove the people temporarily from in front of the courthouse. http://www.times-standard.com/localnews/ci_20271861/humboldt-supervisors-enact-urgency-ordinance-protest-hours-limited?source=pkg

The county refusal to address the problems that the Occupy Movement planted on their doorstep is why the police state thrives. http://www.humboldt.edu/ccrp/total-population-below-poverty-level-redwood-coast-region

In what might be the most egregious affront the City of Eureka has hired Murl Harpham to be the police chief. The hiring is illegal. He is over 65 and has worked for EPD for more than 25 years. Both require his mandatory retirement. He is also When a local activist came to the council meeting to bring this criminal act by the city to the attention of the public she was censored on the public access broadcast and the city website. 

GOOD VIDEOS TO WATCH

The Largest Street Gang in America (on You Tube)

Interview and Documents from FBI Raid Show Feds are Targeting Anarchists

Dennison Williams was in bed at his house on NE 8th Avenue on Wednesday morning when he heard a bang and someone shout, "FBI!" Then came a loud crash, which turned out to be agents breaking down his front door, and Williams heard a bang and a saw a flash of light—the agents throwing flash grenades. Williams started yelling from his bed that he was upstairs and unarmed.

Posted by Sarah Mirk on Fri, Jul 27, 2012 at 4:14 PM

Bunk X-Mas Arrest at Occupy Eureka

Anne Rian, a stalwart Occupier, was arrested this morning at Occupy Eureka, supposedly for a warrant. Missing a court date would be the only reason for a warrant.  However, the District Attorney's office told us that Annie did not have court until January 5th. 

Eureka Police Officer Cress, who has stolen many of our signs in the past and used to show up daily at the Occupy, made the arrest today, December 25th.

The jail told Anne that she is going to be in solitary, even though solitary or "maximum" is supposed to be for people who have problems with other people in the jail- it is not for people to be put in simply because they were arrested during political activity.  The jail guards (Sheriff's Dept) have told her that she will be in there for up to five days (lies, intimidation) and has told her several different charges/reasons she was arrested on a warrant- so that is not clear.

Fallout From the Mesherle Verdict: More Arrests, New Charges

By JESSE STRAUSS; September 21, 2010 - Counterpunch
http://www.counterpunch.org/strauss09212010.html

Approximately seventeen people have been charged over the past three weeks with crimes related to the protests against former BART cop Johannes Mehserle's involuntary manslaughter verdict on July 8th. Some of those recently charged were arrested that night, while others have been identified by police in photos, and have been newly arrested. The latest set of arraignments on Monday morning saw three Oaklanders charged with Unlawful Assembly, Remaining at the Scene of a Riot, and Rioting. They are set to reappear in court within the next month.