January 6, 2011 by tristan savage
A friend once told me that at the beginning of meetings Zapatista rebels in southern Mexico ask “is everybody here or is someone missing?” and then someone always shouts out “los presos!” (“the prisoners”). They mean, of course, the hundreds of comrades who are missing from their communities because they have been locked up in cages by the state, the bosses, and (in some cases) by US immigration officials. Some of those presos are there for being activists, some just because the wealthy have managed to make it a crime to be poor.
Since I heard that cute, but moving story, it has popped up at the most inopportune times. Not just every time I hear someone in one of my own meetings say, “is everyone here?” and I call out “los presos!” and then have to explain, embarrassed, what I mean. It comes up when I’m biking home after a good day and I see one of my neighbors being frisked by a cop for Driving While Black, or when I’m eating a wonderful meal with my partner Katy and one of us says, “I wonder what they’re eating in the Muscogee County Jail today?”
Seriously, if you want a reputation as a downer, try responding, when someone wishes you a merry Christmas, with a correction like, “probably not in the Ohio State Supermax!”
This year, a few friends in different parts of the world decided to bring in the New Year at their local jails, supporting the prisoners the state has stolen from our homes and our neighborhoods.
In Richmond, a little demonstration to make a noise concert for the inmates.
Each new year’s eve we do not forget those who are buried in the prison cells of the republic. One more year, we found ourselves next to imprisoned comrades and all those detained who do not bent neither bow their head, who dared to resist and fight against the regime. We also stand in solidarity to all imprisoned activists who fight for better conditions of incarceration, and claim their self-evident rights even though they’re still deprived of their freedom.
This holiday season, remember the people who aren’t here. If you want to get involved in prisoner solidarity, there are great organizations all over, including the Denver Anarchist Black Cross, which maintains an outstanding blog at their website.