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Last night around thirty anarchists, nihilists, and other generally furious people gathered outside Chicago’s Metropolitan Correctional Center for an anti-prison noise demo in solidarity with the international day of action against prisons. The MCC is a prison in the middle of downtown Chicago, infamous for holding non-cooperating Green Scare defendant Justin Solondz after he was captured in China and extradited back to the United States. The prison is built to look like just another skyscraper, a disgusting attempt to hide the reality of state violence and terror from curious tourist and corporate passers-by. Our noise demo attempted to remind the prisoners in the MCC that although the State has tried to make everyone forget their existence, that we would be with them until every prison is destroyed.
When the first few folks trickled into the area, pigs in full riot gear already lined the entrances to the prison, while Homeland Security officers roamed the block surrounding the demo. Nevertheless, about 10 or so folks began banging on bucket drums, cowbells, and pots and pans, blowing on New Years noisemakers, and cheering and calling out to the prisoners inside. We were fortunate enough to have been able to make contact with inmates inside to facility and have them spread the word about our intentions a few days prior, so folks would know what all the noise was about. After about 10 minutes, we began to see waving silhouettes pressed against the windows of the prison and some flickering lights to welcome us and send affection across the painful distance that separated us from so many potential friends inside. These simple communications back and forth continued to grow in frequency as time passed and the noisemaking crowd multiplied.
After about an hour, the demo reached its full force. Folks continued their boisterous noisemaking, and passed out booklets with a short text [included below] regarding the struggle against prison and a list of information about supporting various rebellious prisoners around the world. Banners were held, stating “Prison=School=Work, They All Must Go!”, “Contra La Migra, Contra La Ciudadanía, Liberación Total!”, and “EEUU, México, Chile, Grecia: Contra Las Fronteras En La Guerra Social”. Some chanted “Burn the jails, Burn the prison/Just make sure the cops are in ‘em!” Passerbys stopped to join, thanking us and telling us about their loved ones in jail. One man who had been incarcerated in the MCC itself in 1991 stopped to chant about his hatred of the police with some participants at the demo. By this time, we’re told that the demo was audible from about 3 city blocks away. The noise reached many more inside as well, as the word about our demo spread. By about 10:00, there were dozens of lights flickering at once across the the face of the giant skyscraper prison. Prisoners from a number of cells were able to slip handfuls of playing cards out the cracks of their windows, showering us in a confetti-like rain of tokens of affection from friends on the inside. Inmates at the lowest level of cells all stood at their windows, waving and pumping fists and writing to us in the condensation on the glass of the windows. The amazing display of mutual appreciation, solidarity, complicity, and hatred for the prison renewed the fire of struggle in the hearts of so many that participated last night.
The demo continued for another good while, and when it ended we couldn’t help but once again feel the pain of separation that the prison enforces and that we had been able to break for a number of hours this New Years Eve. We decided that we would be back as soon as possible to reconnect and intensify our relationships with our new friends inside the MCC through more noise demos and other actions. Love and solidarity to the other noise demos around the world and to all of the rebels in prison that will not be pacified by cages and intimidation.
-Noisy Nihilists Brigade
This is the text that was distributed to participants and passers-by, along with info on supporting friends ongoing state repression:
In memory of Lovelle Mixon, Johnny Owens Vick, Hozel Alanzo Blanchard, Mauricio Morales, Lambros Foundas, Johnny Cariqueo, and so many rebels across the globe who have been murdered by prison society rather than submit to authority. Your spirits will fight alongside us and stoke the flames of our vengeful hearts, even in the darkest hours.
Around the world every New Year’s Eve, people around the world gather outside the prisons, jails, and other detention facilities to make noise and to remember their loved ones who have been kidnapped by the state and locked up against their will for their refusal to accept a passive death at the hands of a society that cares only for creation of value and profit, no matter how many will be sacrificed to meet these ends. These actions offer an outstretched hand to those who have been forgotten by so many, whom society seeks to make invisible by making them disappear behind walls, unable to live, love, and struggle with the people they care about. But what is love and friendship if we could allow it to be divided by concrete walls. The slavery and the violence within prison walls is something that authority wants to make invisible. However, in a society in which the threat of police, prison, deportation, or the mental asylum hang over so many of our heads, we can never forget that although free now, a future of concrete cells and padded rooms for us can never be discounted. We reach out because we recognize that we have a shared fate with those in prison, and a shared struggle to destroy systems which isolate us from each other and threaten to make our lives a living hell.
An important part of this struggle is supporting the struggle against prisons being conducting inside prison walls. In 2011 the struggle against prison intensified in the United States to phenomenal degrees. Sparks lighting the fires of discontent began to fly in December of 2010 when prisoners inside of more than 6 prisons across Georgia organized a hunger strike against the miserable conditions to which they’d been subjected. By spring of 2011, hunger strikes had spread to Pelican Bay State Prison and a number of other locales. A number of waves of hunger strike continued for months, which eventually led to the deaths of Johnny Owens Vick, Hozel Alanzo Blanchard, and another hunger striker due to failing health related to the strike during October. Let us never construe these deaths as anything other than deliberate murder by the prison system, and all the more reason to intensify the struggle in memory of fallen friends and comrades. In this case, the struggle did intensify even further. November 2011 saw two major prisoner uprisings: one in Folsom, CA, where 150 inmates used home-made weapons to riot against guards, and one in Sparta, GA, in which prisoners ran guards out of their cell houses, set them on fire, and celebrated their moment of rebellion. This is only the beginning, they promised. We concur.
The struggles against police institutions that manage the oppressive immigration policy of the United States can also not be separated from the struggle against the prison. While capital continues to wreak havoc across the globe, the number of people that have been thrown into the margins of society is increasing along with the number of facilities to cage them. There are about 32,000 people being held in American immigration detention centers as we write these words, as well as a new one being built in Crete, IL. An attempt at surviving capitalism’s estrangement in the lands they called home has left them criminalized and isolated behind bars in the “Land of Opportunity.” From the point of view of both the state and the Left, immigrants, especially undocumented immigrants, are only allowed exist as docile “citizens”: we are to follow orders and know our place, speak English, work in the most dangerous positions for the lowest pay, and vote Democrat. We live in fear of isolation as we are coerced to live as strangers. This is the invisible prison of the citizenship: we have chosen to police ourselves and each other. Yet the truth is that there are no strangers in struggle, only friends and accomplices we have yet to meet, and enemies to defeat. Immigrants in detention facilities in Southern Texas have risen up and fought their captors, and went on hunger strikes against their conditions. Drawing the connections between the struggle against the prison and the struggle against the control and domination of undocumented is essential to stoking the flames of generalized rebellion.
As the example of immigration has shown, struggle against prison knows no borders, and we want to make sure we acknowledge and send solidarity to our friends who are facing repression around the world, especially in the Americas, for attacking the foundations of social order. The Americas has exploded with widespread insurrectionary activity in 2011. Mexican comrades, as well as those in Argentina and Bolivia, have conducted numerous acts of sabotage against institutions of social control and those developing new technologies to destroy the world. In Chile, 14 companerxs remain behind bars, charged with a ridiculous conspiracy under Chilean anti-terrorist law for their political affiliations as anarchists and nihilists. They remain as defiant as ever, and their words from inside the prison inspire us to continue the struggle in the streets outside. Chile as well is home to our comrade Tortuga, who chooses to continue his rebellion even after being badly injured in the course of it. In Canada, rebels of the G20 conspiracy trial have been thrown into jail undeterred. In Europe, as well, the insurgents maintain their total non-cooperation with the State. Silvia, Billy, and Costa live and fight in the face of harassment and intimidation of the Swiss state, and, in Greece, the Conspiracy Cells of Fire maintain nothing but total contempt for the conditions of prison. We regret that their recent escape attempt was unsuccessful, but we know that even in prison, they live freer than most in this world. To all these friends and accomplices, as well as all those we do not know who nevertheless have kept their mouths shut and their fists clenched, we offer our warmest affection and solidarity. Although you are so far away, your actions have communicated your friendship with us loud and clear.
Let us, of course, not forget that the struggle against prison society takes place in more than just the prisons, jails, and detention centers. Society is made up of a number of institutions that seek to contain our rebellions, silence our cries of anguish, and separate us from each other. Let’s never forget that the model of social control and discipline that built the modern prison is also the basis of the mental asylum, the school, the barracks, and the workplace. In a society built to exploit us and contain our resistance, all social institutions, even the most innocent-seeming, are a form of prison. We can only hope to obtain our freedom through connecting and building communication between the struggles that exist within each of these institutions. Though we may not have met them yet, we have friends and those who share our desire to end oppression that live and struggle within each of these places. Our task is to find each other by struggling from where we stand, to destroy what destroys us. When we build these struggles together, when we see the rebellion of others and ourselves rebel against the things that make our lives miserable, we can put into practice a form of solidarity across struggles that no walls can contain. Though we may be separated by walls, time zones, borders, and languages, if you choose to rebel, you are never alone.
With the warmest embrace to every rebel and criminal who has chosen to truly live rather than to be remain dead,
In hopes that 2012 will truly be the year in which we end this world,
The Committee For Illegal Life