Comrade Migs, NATO 5 prisoner
Greetings of solidarity, comrades and friends.
I sincerely hope this communiqué finds all of you in the very best of health and highest of revolutionary spirits.
I am coming to all of you with all the love and admiration in my heart to thank you for the love, compassion, and solidarity you’ve given me since I was captured, along with 4 other comrades and brothers in struggle, in May 2012.
As most of you know by now, I eventually took a non-cooperating plea after deciding trial was not the best option for me. Though some of you may be disappointed I didn’t “prove my innocence” at trial like so many expected me to do, others were relieved to finally have some closure and an end in sight. I feel I should say why I chose what I did, for this is the first time I’ve been able to speak about this case without formal state persecution.
There is no justice or truth in the United Snakes of Amerikkka’s Justice System. It’s a lie. Propaganda. Laws and courts are about politics, power, and privilege, though of course the Authorities pretend otherwise. I am in political opposition to the state and clearly would never receive a fair trial even if such a thing existed in the system. I am an Anarchist and directly oppose The United States Government, its allies, institutions, armies, and courts. I perceive their very existence to be a direct and immediate threat to freedom and life.
We were targeted and arrested because of our beliefs and love of life and humanity. Though I had the best lawyers who did so much and in so many ways were just really huge emotional supports through this as well (Steve and Matt, I love you), I did not want to go to trial. They argued and fought for me to have the opportunity to be released before my trial would have even started.
I had total faith in both Steve and Matt and the NLG as a whole. However, for me trial would accomplish nothing. If I were to be found not guilty, then what? I still endured all of this time in jail, losing a year of my life already and many, many other things. All of those losses were well worth it to me to stand for Anarchism in the face of Global Capitalism’s military arm. Even if I were “proven innocent,” the system would never clean house or call for the lynching of the pigs, state prosecutors, Feds, warmongers, politicians – the tyrants who orchestrate political and social persecutions, who build a neoslave trade of prisons and prison labor, who send our youth off to die and kill the poor overseas for money, etc. There would be no accountability as usual.
Their decision in court means nothing to me because I will not be deterred and because I do not acknowledge them as my masters or a legitimate Authority, period. I feel, plain and simple, that I have a job to do as an Anarchist and Activist and a revolutionary. And that is to rebel, resist, and defy (as my comrade Hybachi says) against tyrants. Though many political prisoners continue from behind bars to do beautiful work and projects, to organize within these institutions – because it is not over, prison isn’t the end by any means – the fact remains that we are more efficient and have access to more resources outside these walls.
I felt I had an obligation to all of you and myself to do what I needed to do, without compromising my values, to get back to fighting and pushing the best I can. That meant taking this 3-year plea so I can get out soon and get back to our collective struggle. I felt it was the best option I had and was the best for my comrades, friends, family, and myself, as well as our struggle.
Now I have to speak about what is most important to me by far. More than anything else, I want all of you to know that your support, and compassion and solidarity, throughout all of this was and is so incredible. I fail to articulate the extent of how it has truly touched me. You showed us so much solidarity I could never forget. The countless letters of support (the guards hated that) and encouragement and inspiration moved me in ways I struggle to articulate. Having all of my legal expenses paid for and the NLG standing with us. Having money raised for us to be able to buy food, hygiene supplies, stamps, etc from commissary regularly. I received regular visits from so many people.
All of these acts of solidarity continue to prove how beautiful our humanity and “the people” really are and display why we need not a State and a force to regulate and stunt our growth, to keep us from experiencing our full humanity. I was not allowed to be forgotten. I was loved and supported the entire journey, and even now in prison, I’m walking with you. Never alone.
So many of you I did not know before this, and I have made new connections with many groups and individuals. Many of these new, beautiful relationships, forged and birthed from state violence and repression, I will have for the rest of my life. I am so fortunate to be part of such a strong and amazing community and network of communities. Local and global, we’ve stood together.
The State uses prisons and jails to divide and alienate us, to break unity and solidarity, to divide and conquer – attack us individually, break our “individual will,” and scare us collectively. As long as you do not let go of our hands and we do not let go of your hands extended in solidarity to us through the rows of razor wire, this entire tool and tactic of imprisonment as well as their intended outcomes will fail!
Solidarity is the strongest weapon we have, and it works.
The State uses prisons to destroy our movements and crush resistance. They are tools to maintain social control and psychologically destroy the mind and will of the prisoner. The support given me has enabled me to convert all of the abuse and violence of my incarceration into more pushups in my revolutionary boot camp and not paralyzing bullets, like intended.
I, like many “political prisoners,” was targeted, beat, threatened, thrown in segregation, starved, refused medical treatment, and on and on for most of my stay to varying degrees. Now, some of the most violent, volatile, and sick individuals I’ve ever encountered (including anti-fascist struggles and maximum security inmate populations) are employed as guards at Cook County Jail. Because of your campaigns and actions, these violent fascists were ordered to no longer put their hands on me, and then refrained from doing so. They eventually turned to less aggressive (and nearly laughable in comparison) forms of harassment. Your pressure got me released early from “the hole” more than once, and in many ways my treatment and handling improved altogether.
I want all of you to know this because we learn from experience. We learn to resist more effectively. What I want to convey is: because I was given the aid I needed, I have been able to use this terrible State repression and miserable incarceration to become a much more confident, strong, and determined Anarchist and Activist. I could not have done that without you. I give you my full love and gratitude.
I would also like to extend a special thanks to the NATO 5 Defense Committee, the Anarchist Black Cross, the NLG (National Lawyers Guild), the Occupy movement, and all of the people who’ve penpalled me through it all. Thanks to those who worked so hard to raise awareness of our cases, raise money for our defenses, representation, and commissary, and share information on the tactics the State employed to entrap and railroad us, in order to prevent and counter future attacks on others by the same means.
I will never forget you as you never forgot me.
I hope to be back out, side by side with you soon enough, continuing to fight for total Liberation.
No prisoner left behind! Dot your I’s, cross your T’s, and Always circle your A’s!
Til my coffin drops and til the end of days, long live Anarchism!
In solidarity and struggle,
Government name: Mark Neiweem
Slave #: M36200
Pontiac Correctional Center
PO Box 99
Pontiac, IL 61764
New York, NY–Since the beginning of the #noNATO protests, I’d been following news and tweets from Chicago religiously, and was troubled by what I saw and heard happening: the apartment raid and its ensuing terrorism charges, the protester intentionally struck by the police van, the targeting of live streamers, the shameful and unfortunately usual police brutality—and all the while, I had friends who were there. But here at home in New York, caught between busy “real life” and a virtual experience of protest and action. The more I heard what was happening, the more I wanted to do something myself—so you can imagine my excitement when it was announced that Occupies all over were to show their solidarity with those in Chicago, Frankfurt and Montreal on Sunday, M20.
In New York City, we would meet in Bryant Park in midtown Manhattan to show our solidarity. I headed there after work and found a fairly large group of people congregated around an umbrella-covered table. This must be Occupy, I thought. I pulled over a chair and sat with the rest, everyone gossiping about what had been going on in Chicago earlier in the day, comparing facts and accounts they had heard. A couple tourists came and asked what the hubbub was all about, and listened respectfully as occupiers explained the CPD’s dubious practices over the weekend as well as our general grievances against NATO.
I myself wasn’t sure what we were specifically going to do tonight—a speak out? A meeting? A march? But shortly after 8:30 we lined up and marched north on 6th Avenue. We were to stop at three different locations in the city, where we would mic check a statement in solidarity with those in Chicago, Frankfurt and Montreal. We crossed to the west side of the street and stood outside News Corp, where we were instructed to lock our arms and stand in a circle, emulating those who had protected Jack from the media and prying eyes after his injury, after being hit by a Chicago Police van the night before. We mic checked the following statement as passersby stopped and listened:
“Mic check! Mic check! Do you know the story of our friend Jack? How he was intentionally run over by the Chicago police last night? How his comrades formed a ring around him after the assault? How they overcame fear in the face of state violence? How they showed the spontaneous beauty of affinity?
We are here at News Corp standing together in a ring of solidarity with our comrades in Chicago, in Montreal, in Frankfurt and across the world as they rise against oppression, inequality and injustice.
We are all Chicago; we are thousands in the streets! We will not be terrorized into silence as we protest the illegitimate power of financial and military elites from the G-8 and NATO.
Mic Check! We are all Montreal; we are thousands in the streets! We refuse the draconian emergecy law invoked by the government; we will continue to rise up and strike against tuition-hikes. Free education is a right!
Mic Check! We are all Frankfurt; we are thousands in the streets! We stand against the globalization of austerity and the punishment of the people for the crimes of the bankers. Another world is possible, and she is on her way!
The 1% uses the police, the military, and the media to prop up a collapsing system. We have our voices, our bodies and our hearts. We are here, we are everywhere, we are not afraid!”
During the statement, some police and white shirts tried to get those standing to keep moving, to not stop on the sidewalk and listen to us, but a few of us shouted that the sidewalk is public space and, if you’re not obscuring 50% of the space, it’s within your right to stand as long as you need or want to. By my memory, it did not seem to be an argument the police felt was worth pursuing.
With our work there finished, we continued west on 47th Street to the Times Square area. Those meandering through were now at a standstill as we passed through, watching us silently as we chanted: “From Chicago to NYC, stop police brutality!” I imagine that many of them, who likely had no idea what was going on outside of our city due to the mainstream media’s poor coverage of the protests, thought we were crazy. But the importance of tonight’s action—aside from showing support to our friends and comrades—was that we together were delivering our statement, which explained the power of affinity, solidarity and friendship against a violent police force programmed to oppress dissent—a force that many of us, if given the choice, would rather deny exists in America. Tonight, we demanded to be heard.
As we approached the plaza in front of the red steps, some in our march entreated those sitting on the steps to come down and join us. To my surprise, huge groups were leaving the steps—all of them were stepping down! But I eventually realized that this was not because they were inspired to join us; NYPD was removing everyone from the steps to set up barricades before them. Again, we locked arms in a circle and mic checked our statement of solidarity.
Obviously, there was a bigger audience to our action here than at News Corp, and to shout our statement in front of them was a moving experience. At any Occupy action or event you feel an intense sense of community, but in this case it felt especially good to express in unison the feelings I had felt throughout the past four days. And the fact that we were outward-facing, locking eyes with those standing before us—whether they be tourists, New Yorkers, or the police—made the moment especially touching. The majority of faces looking back at us were solemn, and no matter what they thought of our actions or political philosophy, they were listening.
Afterwards we walked a few blocks south to 43rd Street and 7th Avenue, stopping outside the armed forces recruitment center that’s located just across from the police department. The scene was similar to our last location, with one really great difference: after finishing our statement with “We are here, we are everywhere, we are not afraid!” a bystander shouted out: “And we support you!” Our group erupted into cheers and dancing, backlit by the American flag. The single sentence that man declared in solidarity made the entire night feel worth so much.
After our third reciting of the statement, we quickly “went civilian,” and encouraged anyone around who was not part of Occupy to ask us questions or speak to us if we captured their interest. We would return to Bryant Park at 10; it was now almost 9:30. For now, we basked in the light of Times Square, entranced and hypnotized by the larger-than-life advertisements that surrounded us.
Back at Bryant Park, a small group of us congregated at the corner of 6th Avenue and 42nd Street, where a livestream of the protests in Chicago was projected on a screen held by an occupier. It was bumpy at first—each stream we tried was either choppy, or we went offline—but eventually things were moving. We sat and chatted, and many tried to encourage passersby to watch, with the sad but true statement of “I bet you won’t see this on the news tomorrow!” Once again, what we did tonight seemed very important: passing the message along, creating awareness of this faraway thing that was happening to our friends a few states over—that was happening to all of us.
Aaron Cynic of Diatribe Media and the Chicagoist (and on our website, this account of #noNATO action) sent us this video last night in which, around 8:30 outside the Art Institute, he gives his audience an update on NATO protests as well as what’s happening in that moment.
View the video here:
This post originally appeared at Diatribe Media.
Chicago, IL–The day kicked off in a tame but at least celebratory manner at a rally held in Daley Plaza by National Nurses United. After two hours of speeches and wandering around a square grabbing random flyers and other literature, there was no way that at least part of the 3,000 plus people standing on the square were simply going to go home. Everyone knew it, and one could feel a nervous sense of excitement wafting on the air while the last few chords of Tom Morello’s performance rang out. As people still milled about and I waited to see exactly when an unpermitted march would begin, the Chicago police made what appeared to be a very targeted snatch and grab of a masked protester. According to reports, the police attempted to ask the man a few questions, he refused to answer and was immediately led away in handcuffs. He was charged with disorderly conduct.
That incident was all the rest of the crowd on the plaza needed to incite them to move, and soon enough after a tense few minutes between police and protesters, we were in the streets headed south on Clark, with no clear destination in mind but a sense of determination that we’d march and shut the streets of Chicago down. The anger towards the police was palpable, not only with the most recent arrest in mind, but also keeping into consideration the arrest of eight activists in a night time raid the day before. Three of the arrested are still being held, now being charged with crimes related to terrorism. Shouts of “no justice, no peace, fuck the police” came from hundreds of voices and reverberated off every piece of glass and concrete in the loop.
Still, as the march snaked its way through the streets downtown, the police were mostly restrained. I waited and expected to see a wall of riot police, clad in black with clubs and tear gas at the ready as we turned down various corners, but the hundreds of officers on the street merely wore plain clothes. The march eventually made its way through part of Millennium Park, eventually climbing onto Randolph near Obama’s campaign headquarters. As we started heading west down Randolph, unmarked vans filled with police in riot gear began to pull up. One of CPD’s two LRAD trucks sat ominously but silently on a corner. At the corner of Randolph and Michigan, the unpermitted march that began at the end of the NNU rally met a second set of environmental justice marchers.
Together we marched for a short while longer through the Loop and eventually were stopped at the bridge over the Chicago river on Michigan Avenue, where one demonstrator scaled a bridge tower and managed to rip a banner in half put up by the city to welcome NATO delegates to town. After ringing a large bell on the tower, he jumped down and police attempted to make an arrest. Protesters managed to dearrest him, but another demonstrator was tackled and held by police. Several demonstrators tried to intervene, shouting at police while media who managed to make it close to the situation attempted to document. While I frantically attempted to get photos of the scene, a wall of about a dozen blue helmeted police in full riot gear, clubs drawn flooded the small area on the bridge where an officer was standing on the demonstrator and we were pushed out. Almost immediately, the scene changed from an intense but peaceful demonstration to a tense standoff between protesters and police geared up for battle. Police made one more arrest as hundreds of officers in riot gear filled the streets.
Eventually, remnants of the march headed back through the loop down State Street, chanting at a scarce amount of afternoon shoppers to put away their wallets and let go of their attachment to consumerism. Still holding the street with nearly 300 strong, marchers made their way towards LaSalle and Jackson, home of Occupy Chicago, flanked by hundreds of police on bikes. Shortly after reports of an attempt to kettle demonstrators, protesters headed out to various other actions. Some to a direct action training and celebration in the park at the horse, site of two sets of arrests of Occupy Chicago members during attempts to create an encampment in October, others to jail solidarity to support those arrested.
We’ve been discussing the NATO/G8 protests since the inception of Occupy Chicago, and it feels kind of surreal that the week is finally upon us. In just 8 months we’ve grown from a ragtag bunch gathering in the financial district to a group capable of hosting a two-day event for hundreds of participants that drew media attention from every outlet. Hell, someone working for the government was so concerned about Occupy’s influence and participation in the protests that the G8 summit was moved to a secluded military encampment. One summit down, one to go. Imagine what we can accomplish in another 8 months and beyond.
In response to the elite group of appointed (not elected) officials meeting in our city to plan global military actions that will cost the lives of untold thousands, we organized a summit of our own. The People’s Summit (May 12-13) sought to explore issues we face both globally and locally while upholding Occupy Chicago’s core values of transparency, horizontalism, direct democracy, non-violence, and non-partisanship. The schedule was full of speeches, panels, teach-ins, and trainings – as well as food, entertainment, and general good cheer. The Summit was held in the converted warehouse at 500 W Cermak where we have been renting space since January and included services such as catering via Food Not Bombs, child care, and after-hours live music.
I missed the first day of the People’s Summit, but the reports I heard kept me eager to attend on Sunday. It was incredible to see the halls full of people engaged in activism and hear the impassioned and intelligent conversations taking place. As one of the active organizers in Occupy Chicago, I didn’t attend any specific set of events throughout the day. Instead, I popped in and out of various panels and discussions to get a sense of how they were going and what needed to be done to facilitate a smoother ride. I heard bits and pieces of discussions on Syria, Afghanistan, economic justice, workers’ resistance and more. Most rooms were close to capacity, some standing room only.
This panel-hopping allowed me to get an overall sense of the atmosphere and energy at the Summit, and can I say: WOW. It’s powerful to see so many people coming together to discuss problems and solutions, dreams and goals, ideas and actions. As important as it is to be seen in the streets airing our grievances, the movement’s lasting power will come from our ability to sit down to learn from one another and share our resources to create a better world. This is only the beginning, but from what I saw this weekend, we’re off to an excellent start.
As the night wound down with a final workshop by one of our star NLG lawyers on how to (peacefully) disarm a police officer, I joined members of the Arts & Recreation committee who were working on banners for our upcoming week of action. Luckily they are more talented than I am when it comes to drawing designs out, but I helped put down some paint and kept them company. Lying across the floor with a fresh sunburn (thanks to an outdoor press liaison training), filling in bubble letters on canvas, I felt at home. Occupy people are my people – an extended family if you will. And I think we should have them over to visit more often.
Thanks to everyone who joined us in solidarity from out of town, and to all the Chicagoans who have put in countless hours of work to make this People’s Summit happen. I’ll see you in the streets.
Editor’s Note: You can read more #noNATO coverage on Occupied Stories by clicking here.]]>