4 June 2010

Letter on Prison Hell

We print below an April 8 letter to the Partisan Defense Committee from Tom Manning. Manning and Jaan Laaman are the last two members of the Ohio 7 still in prison and are recipients of the PDC class-war prisoner stipend program. The Ohio 7 were members of the United Freedom Front, a radical group that took credit for bombings that targeted symbols of U.S. imperialism, including military and corporate offices, in the late 1970s and ’80s (see “Ohio 7: Fighters Against Imperialism, Racism,” WV No. 741, 8 September 2000). The PDC has long defended the Ohio 7, including during a 1989 trial on trumped-up “seditious conspiracy” charges. From the standpoint of the working class, their actions against U.S. imperialism and racist injustice were not crimes, and these courageous activists should not have served a day in prison.

In 1987 Manning was convicted in a second frame-up trial for the 1981 shooting of a New Jersey state trooper, and the government is determined that he die in prison, as did fellow Ohio 7 defendant Richard Williams in 2005. Manning has spent years in lockdown in some of the worst hellholes of the prison system, including USP Marion (Illinois) and USP Florence ADMAX (Colorado), a sensory deprivation unit of steel and concrete, with no sound and minimal human contact, designed to break prisoners. Free Jaan Laaman and Tom Manning! Free all class-war prisoners!

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Dear PD folks,

This evening your mailing found me again—at yet another prison. I’m now at the USP#1 Coleman, Florida. Having been moved on March 15th and 16th from West Virginia to Maryland, to Harrisburg, PA., to Oklahoma City, OK., to West Virginia again, and finally to Tampa, Florida, a two hour bus trip out here to the Coleman Correctional Complex. Site of at least five federal prisons. I’m into my fourth week of sitting in the hole—waiting for S.I.S. (internal security) to decide whether they want me at their great place here.

With my arthritis and artificial joints (3) I don’t travel as well as I once did, especially with all the air conditioning at full blast on all those planes and buses, and here in the hole (SHU), where there is no sunlight (windows blocked by steel) and plenty of damp cold air. All this coming after two months being denied any pain meds. By the time they pulled me off the bus here, I felt like they pulled me out from under it. After nine days here, I finally got some pain meds. So I’m doing alright in that, even though I was without them for the last two days due to organizational disorganization. The Struggle Continues!

When the bus I was on arrived at Harrisburg Airport, and fell into line with dozens of other prisoner transport buses and vans, out in the cold wind in a remote corner of the tarmac, where the area was transformed into an impromptu, yet much practiced, transfer junction, with lines of chained and shackled prisoners, by the hundreds, being assembled in the cold with flimsy paper jump suits of different colors, (like paper Dr. Dentons) depending on which prison each group came from. Brown, blue, orange, yellow, white, tan—to be reloaded onto other buses or vans, or to await the arrival of the BOP airliners. All surrounded by armed guards meeting and greeting each other, sipping hot coffee or whatever from their thermoses, dressed in their insulated bulky outdoor gear. Boots, jackets, hoods, etc. while we stood there by the hundred, by the hours, shivering so bad one couldn’t control it. Couldn’t will it away or ignore it.

This is just one transfer junction of this remote corner of Pennsylvania. And I was thinking—if any other so-called First World European country were to move this many prisoners as I was seeing there, at this time and place, it would make world news. Yet this is just one locale. How many more locales was this happening in/at this time or on any given day?

A star trek type sample of slave caravans crisscrossing the edges of the Sahara, or gathering on West African shores. At least they weren’t tossing the dead and dying overboard as they did in the middle passage.

From five a.m. Monday till eleven p.m. Tuesday I had a total of three hours without blackboxed handcuffs, bellychain and leg shackles and got two and a half hours sleep. All the time thinking, “it could be worse...”

Anyway, thank you for telling us of Mumia’s struggles and Lynne’s. And thank you for the money order, as usual. It’s much appreciated. All things considered.

The Struggle Still Continues!
Tom Manning
No Justice, No Peace!

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(reprinted from Workers Vanguard No. 960, 4 June 2010)

Workers Vanguard is the newspaper of the Spartacist League with which the Partisan Defense Committee is affiliated.