The burgeoning U.S. capitalist class’ police state, facing not even the tiniest bit of pressure from the U.S. working class – thanks to the pro-capitalist labor traitors “leading” the AFL-CIO – is becoming more and more vicious every day. While the capitalist-owned press brays in its inimitable lying fashion about how the U.S. government is reducing the prison population, conditions of life for those unfortunate enough to have fallen into the black hole of the U.S. prison industrial complex and their friends and families know better.
Here in Illinois – the most corrupt state in the United States – the prison system until just this past January included one of the most notorious torture centers on the face of the Earth: the Tamms Correctional Center Supermax prison in Tamms, IL. Here, prisoners were kept in solitary confinement in rooms where the lights were left on 24-hours a day in order to “break the resistance” of people confined to these modern-day dungeons. The lying news media often portrays these prisons as being built to house only the most dangerous inmates in the U.S.; but in fact, among the prisoners being tortured in these dungeons are many political prisoners. The intent in these cases is to break the will of the activists who have spent their entire lives fighting against U.S. imperialism and the systemic racism and oppression faced by political activists in the supposedly “free” United States.
In January of 2013, hapless puppet “Governor” Pat Quinn announced the closure of Tamms, citing not the draconian conditions in which its victims were kept but “budget constraints” of the State of Illinois (which is essentially bankrupt) as his justification.
Meanwhile, at the supposedly more “sophisticated” and “civilized” Pontiac Correctional Center, the use of long periods of solitary confinement of inmates for the most trivial reasons is a growing menace to the well-being of prisoners there. The case of Mark Neiweem, an anarchist from Chicago who was arrested during the anti-NATO protests in Chicago in 2012 is a graphic example of how the capitalist class of Illinois likes to handle political activists who attempt to embarrass them.
Neiweem was arrested in Chicago on bogus charges of “terrorism” and thrown into the Cook County Jail to await his trial. In this shithole, he was held for 329 days without any physical exercise AT ALL and forced – like all the inmates who are held there – to eat food that no one would feed to a dog.
“The politically motivated prosecution and abuse Mark suffered in Cook County Jail point to a degree of coordinated state repression and coercion which was physically and psychologically unbearable,” said Rachel Unterman of the NATO 5 Defense Committee. “Ultimately, Mark decided to end his ordeal and be transferred out of Cook County Jail by taking a non-cooperating plea deal.”
[Source: “RELEASE: NATO Arrestee Pressured into Guilty Plea” retrieved from Pastebin via #OpPenPal]
As part of his plea deal, Neiweem pled guilty “to felony charges brought on by interactions with undercover Chicago police officers who had infiltrated activist groups prior to last May’s NATO protests. Neiweem pleaded guilty to a probation violation charge from a previous conviction and to solicitation and attempted possession of an explosive or incendiary device.” In return for his plea, he received a 3-year sentence, to be served out at Pontiac Correctional Center.
Life for Neiweem at Pontiac has been no better than at Cook County Jail. At Pontiac, he has now (as of September, 2013) been held in solitary confinement for more than two months has now had his time increased by six months “for being in possession of Anarchist symbols (including the Anarchist Black Cross logo) and Anarchist literature!”
“Since our previous call-in campaign, Mark has been found guilty on two disciplinary violations:
- Gang or Unauthorized Organization Activity, for his possession of “unauthorized” Anarchist symbols and friendship with another Anarchist in the prison
- Dangerous Written Material, for his possession of “unauthorized” Anarchist literature
“These rules exist to limit gang activity within the prison but are being used in this case to target Anarchists and label them as an imminent threat to the facility. He is still being held in the most restrictive type of cell within solitary, behind a solid steel door.
“Mark’s punishment for being found guilty of Anarchism is: 6 months in solitary confinement; 2 months of yard restriction (no time outside); 6 months restricted visits; and he is losing 3 months time off for good behavior, which will see him released next February instead of mid-November.”
This naked attempt by the Illinois capitalist state to criminalize the philosophy of anarchism must not be allowed to stand! Anarchism is not a criminal conspiracy but a legitimate political philosophy which, along with socialism, has inspired generations of workers all over the world to fight against capitalist exploitation. Anarchists from Chicago – most notably anarchist Albert Parsons and the German worker-socialists and anarchists of Chicago – led the fight for the eight-hour day, launching the Eight-Hour Movement in the United States and the very first International Workers Day (also known as May Day) celebration for workers’ rights on May 1, 1886. They also led the struggle for the legalization of trade unions in the U.S., which were themselves, until the 1930s, considered to be “criminal conspiracies” or “combinations” of the working class to “force” the capitalists to pay higher wages! Without the self-sacrifice of generations of anarchist workers, the economic basis for what is today considered to be the middle-class “American Dream” of a shorter work day and higher wages and benefits would never have come into existence at all. But to the American capitalist class, all this is just more “evidence’ that the anarchists are a “criminal” threat to the “freedoms” of the capitalists to rape, pillage and murder the world’s workers – as they are preparing to do now to our brothers and sisters in Syria.
Mark Neiweem’s comrades have been organizing a call-in campaign to keep the future inmates of Pontiac Correctional Center (now known as the “prison authorities”) aware that their campaign of harassment of Mark Neiweem is not going to pass unnoticed.
We endorse this campaign and call on all our readers to immediately hit the phones to demand that the harassment of Mark Neiweem by the scum running the Pontiac Correctional Center cease immediately!
Here are the phone numbers and addresses to send your protests to:
S. A. Godinez, Director of the Illinois Department of Corrections:
(217) 558-2200 (8:30-5PM Monday-Friday); email Director Godinez at http://www2.illinois.gov/idoc/contactus/Pages/default.aspx
Pat Quinn, Governor of Illinois, at (217) 782-0244; email Governor Quinn at: http://www2.illinois.gov/gov/Pages/ContacttheGovernor.aspx
Demand that Mark Neiweem be released from solitary confinement immediately and that all his rights be respected while he is in prison!
Workers of the World, Unite!
Independent Workers Party of Chicago