Check out previous issues of UltraViolet

In This Issue

Serra Settling For Sainthood
Taking Aim At Police Terror
Jinnat Ali
Taja Gabrielle de Jesus
QuAIA - Toronto
No New SF Jail
Murder of an atheist, the rise of religious extremism in Bangladesh
Ai Wei Wei Lures Me to Alcatraz
96 hours - 47 actions - #ReclaimMLK
Our Inside Voices – Writings from Prison
   Even a Bona Fide Gangster
   Follow Up Story
   Prison Rape
   Prison Rules in Arkansas
   Shorts from Inside
   Transitioning the Hardway: Validation
Your Perception is my Deception
When High Tech Gets Really Low
Federal Prosecutor Wants Long Sentence for Rasmea
The  MOCHA Column
We Can Save CCSF
Congrats Cuban 5 - Hands Off Assata!

Serra Settling For Sainthood

THE VATICAN--Sources closer to my God than thee have confirmed that the Pope of Rome, Francis the Only, will acknowledge that Father Juniper Serra, up to now only Blessed, is a saint. "Cleansing is next to Godliness," said the Vicar of God.  "He will be the patron saint of settlers and we will open the first church of Saint Junipero in Palestine."

Most run of the mill saints require at least two verified miracles before they can be canonised.  But Father Serra was instrumental in sending so many of God's Native Californians to their maker, and that's miracle enough for this pope.

California govenor Jerry Brown is setting forth steps to ensure the state is in full compliance with canonical law. The Department of Caltrans is instituting a fuel surtithe to fund new roadsigns for what will now be called the Saint Junipero Serra Boulevard and freeway.

With San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, a huge fan of Serra's missionary position, the clause are in. The newly appointed people Nuncio for the Junipero Serra Holy Freeway and Boulevard is to ensure compliance with church teachings for all who use the roadway. "You shall pay for your sins- at all onramps and offramps.  All people who use the Holy Boulevard will be required to swear to not have gay sex unless they are in a traditional marriage and then only if they are trying to have a child."

March and Celebration 
Sunday, MARCH 8, 2015 
Lake Merritt Amphitheater, Oakland 
12 PM Rally & Speak Out for Justice 
12:30 PM March to Rise & Resist 
1:30 PM Celebration

Taking Aim At Police Terror

by Kate

All the activism around #BlackLivesMatter has brought more attention to the killings of African Americans and Latinos by police, but none of that seems to have translated into police feeling more pressure not to kill people. has documented 172 killings of civilians by police in the first two months of 2015. Of those, 42% are identified as Black or Latino and the race of the victim is unknown in another 24%.

These first few months have been bloody here in the Bay Area. San Francisco police have killed at least two people. One, a white man, committed suicide by cop, pointing a BB or pellet gun at officers at the Mission Station. He left suicide notes on his cell phone. The other, Amilcar Perez Lopez, was killed on the night of February 26 at 24th and Folsom in the heart of the Mission, allegedly for stealing a bicycle.

Oakland police shot 28-year-old Corey Pollard in East Oakland on February 13, after someone flagged down a patrol car and said Pollard was acting “erratically.” The police said he had a knife. Pollard was injured but survived. On February 7, Oakland police shot at another young man in East Oakland who they said swung golf clubs at them, but they didn’t hit him. The man's family called to report he was mentally unstable and threatening to hit family members with a weapon.

On February 3, Emeryville police killed 38-year-old Yuvette Henderson, a Black single mother, after she allegedly tried to steal some knives at Home Depot. Henderson had had some kind of encounter with Home Depot security guards which left her bleeding from her head. The guard called an ambulance and the police. On the 911 tape, he is heard saying that she is not cooperating, while she says, “I am cooperating. I’m right here.” The guard said that Henderson then pulled a gun and ran away. She ran by police and fire units and attempted to get on a bus but the driver wouldn’t stop for her. The police killed her with at least seven bullets in front of a storage facility in Oakland. The cops were wearing body cameras but did not turn them on until after the shooting.


The Anti-Police Terror Project (APTP), a multiracial, multigenerational coalition led by ONYX Organizing Committee, has been organizing along with Black Lives Matter and the BlackOut Collective, to demand answers as to what happened to Yuvette Henderson and why. APTP has organized several vigils and demonstrations in Emeryville. On Saturday, February 21, three affinity groups comprising people affiliated with Black Lives Matter, BlackOut Collective, Xicana Moratorium, APTP, Asians 4 Black Lives, Third World for Black Power and Bay Area Solidarity Action Team (including a representative from QAGMIRE) locked down three of the four entrances to Home Depot while a march was heading over from the Emeryville Police Station. Our goal was to disrupt business as usual for five hours, marking the time that Yuvette Henderson’s body was left in the street (eerily like what happened to Michael Brown in Ferguson). Home Depot immediately closed the store when we arrived, although the blockade didn’t allow them to close the main entrance, meaning that four women from Asians 4 Black Lives had a line of cops literally breathing down their necks for five hours. Reportedly some Zionist men who have been seen trying to provoke confrontations at Palestine solidarity actions showed up and tried to ram their way through the blockade, but the women held strong and no one rose to the bait.

A derrick replica built to blockade the Federal Building at a climate justice protest in early February was transformed into a tower at the great new Greenpeace warehouse in West Oakland. Huge signs containing the demands of the campaign were hung on the tower. The demands are:

Release The Tapes. Both Home Depot and the storage facility where Yuvette was killed have surveillance cameras. Home Depot last week released the audio of the 911 tape their security guard made but not the videotape that would show her interactions with security and how she was injured. The surveillance video from the storage facility would likely show how she was killed and whether cops did anything to try to resolve the situation without killing her. We want the tapes released.

No Paid Leave When Cops Kill. The officers who killed Yuvette are on paid administrative leave while the department investigates the shooting. Essentially, you kill someone and get a paid vacation.

End Military Style Policing. The cops who killed Yuvette were armed with a pistol, a shotgun and an AR-15 military assault rifle. We want all those weapons destroyed or sent back to whatever federal government agency they came from.

Organizer and poet Cat Brooks of ONYX climbed the two-story tower and stayed up there for the full five hours, providing the lead voice for a stirring theater piece that brought to life Yuvette’s last day on earth and the horrible choices put on her by poverty, sexism and racism. Black people built an altar and adorned it with pictures of Yuvette and her kids. An enormous banner demanding “RELEASE THE TAPES” floated above the crowd, held aloft by a giant stationary balloon.

APTP is also working to demand accountability for the killing of Amilcar Perez Lopez and the shooting of Corey Pollard as well as two women shot by San Leandro police in Oakland late last year. They are also working with the families of Idriss Stelley, who was killed by San Francisco police in 2001 in a movie theater, and Alex Nieto, who was killed by SFPD on March 14 last year, to commemorate their lives and stop the terror.

APTP stands out from some “police accountability” projects because of its thorough-going critique of not only police procedures but the social system that those procedures uphold. They reject the “politics of respectability,” that says we need to focus only on the most blameless, the unarmed, the children victims of violence. This movement makes connections between gentrification, displacement, poverty, lack of affordable housing, sexism, criminalization of sex workers and trans people, and what happens to people like Yuvette Henderson. A chant heard a lot at the marches last year after Eric Garner was killed goes, “Indict! Convict! Send Those Killer Cops to Jail/The Whole Damn System Is Guilty As Hell” but at the Home Depot protest, we chanted, “Rise Up! Resist! We Don’t Need No Cops or Jails,” reflecting an understanding that the jails and cops themselves are the problem, not just the individuals who fire the shots.

Hundreds of people were arrested in Oakland and San Francisco last year during the months of marches following the Michael Brown and Eric Garner non-indictments. Nearly all of the charges have been dropped, but the big exception is the Black Friday 14, the group of Black people, most of them women, who shut down West Oakland BART with a bold, theatrical action on the day after Thanksgiving. BART initially demanded that the activists pay them $70,000 to reimburse their estimated lost revenue for the day, but after a massive campaign of protests and tweetathons, they were shamed into dropping that demand and finally even joined the call for the district attorney to drop the charges. Evil d.a. nancy o’malley, however, is determined to make an example of these defendants, understanding that many of them are core to the movement which continues to grow and solidify. She might hope that they’ll be intimidated into pulling back from activism, but that’s not happening! Over 100 people attended a demonstration outside their most recent court appearance, and no doubt there will be even more at the next ones. APTP is vigorously organizing to demand that o’malley DROP THE CHARGES AGAINST THE BLACK FRIDAY 14!

APTP has open monthly meetings on the third Wednesday of every month. Normally the meetings are at Eastside Arts Alliance in East Oakland, but if you plan to go, check their Facebook page to be sure.

Tell Hewlitt Packard
Divest from Occupation & Apartheid
March 18, 10:30 am
Page Mill Road, Palo Alto

Hewlitt Packard provides ongoing support and maintenance to a biometric ID system installed in Israeli checkpoints in the occupied West Bank, and provides the Israeli military with other equipment and services to help it maintain the illegal occupation. A coalition of organizations for Palestinian rights will take their protest of HP complicity in Israel’s occupation directly to HP headquarters on March 18. That was the day that HP should have had its annual in-person shareholder meeting, but recently changed it to an online meeting only, prompting much criticism. Come join the people’s virtual HP shareholder’s meeting – join in protests and street theater and a chance to voice your feelings to a virtual Meg Whitman!

For more info about carpools and plans,  

HP = Harming People


SAVE THE DATE – JUNE 19-21 – San Francisco

Brava Theater

A Film Festival for the Rest of Us

As members of queer communities we are creating Outside the Frame, a film festival that challenges Frameline’s complicity with Israeli apartheid. This festival will feature the work of filmmakers who have withdrawn their work from Frameline or did not submit because of Frameline’s continued partnership with the Israeli government. OTF will include films from others who believe in, and whose work supports, LGBTQI visual culture’s role in the anti-imperial struggle.

Join us for an exciting lineup, including:

Criminal Queers, by Eric Stanley and Chris Vargas
Pinkwashing: A new film by Dean Spade
The Path to Coming Out: Queer Lebanese Speak Up by Bassam Kassab
Fuck My Life, the short film, by Xandra Ibarra
Sins Invalid: An Unshamed Claim to Beauty, by Patty Berne
and lots more

Presented by: Queers Undermining Israeli Terrorism (QUIT!), Mythiliyeen, Queer Women of Color Media Arts Project; Gay Shame; SWANABAQ ISouth West Asian and North Aftrican Bay Area Queers); Arab Resource & Organizing Center; Critical Resistance; International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network; Jewish Voice for Peace – San Francisco/East Bay Chapter; Middle East Children’s Alliance; US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation.

We are grateful for support from Resist! Foundation, People's Life Fund and Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, but we still need your help to make this happen. 

Please donate if you can. Go to to donate, help, sponsor, or see the final program.

Jinnat Ali

Jinnat Ali, known to us as the father of Trikone and QUIT! cofounder Tinku Ishtiaq, died January 26th, 2015 in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Mr. Ali was born 90 years ago in a small trading village on the banks of a major river in East Bengal. He was a dedicated student and became the first in his extended family to move away from the business of trading and join the ranks of educated professionals as an economist. The turmoil of the second world war, during which India was trying to wrest itself free from the dominion of the British empire, helped to politicize him during his student years. He saw the extremely painful partition of India and Pakistan in 1947 and then the genocide in Bangladesh a generation later as the country tried to wrest itself away from Pakistan. Each successful struggle was followed by rapid disillusionment but Mr. Ali’s general optimistic outlook helped him take each development in stride.

Tinku says,  “I believe that my father was very instrumental in my personal political formation and whatever sense of justice I have was acquired from him and my mother.  Even though my father was not particularly happy when I came out to him long time ago he readily embraced my boyfriend, who accepted my invitation to live with me and my parents in Dhaka 9 years ago. He valued reason and rationality over faith. Though he was a Muslim he was not angry with me when, fresh from having read Russell's ‘Why I am not a Christian,’ I boldly renounced religion to him while in high school; since he could not come up with enough reasons to convince me otherwise he accepted my decision. He was also against the sacrifice of animals as part of Islamic religious rituals but only voiced this to us after my mother had passed away.”

Mr. Ali will be missed dearly by those who were close to him, who knew him and loved him. Tinku was fortunate enough to be by his bedside when he breathed his last. Mr. Ali is survived by his four children and their spouses, and six grandchildren.

Taja Gabrielle de Jesus

On February 1, Taja Gabrielle de Jesus, a Latina transwoman, was found stabbed to death in a stairwell in the Bayview. She was 36. Taja worked with TRANS: THRIVE which provides a drop-in center, other services, and political organizing for trans people in San Francisco.

TAJA's Coalition, the Trans* Activists for Justice and Accountability Coalition, called a demonstration in response to her murder, and the murders of other trans women of color. Over two hundred people marched on city hall, and about a dozen trans people of color participated in a die-in. Under the slogan, “Rest in Power Taja,” they demanded:

·         Affordable, accessible housing for trans people

·         Cisgender people step up to prevent anti-trans violence

·         No new jail in SF. Resources and Safety for Trans People. 

According to the Advocate, seven transwomen were killed in the u.s. in the first two months of 2015. Six were women of color.

QuAIA - Toronto Retires

After seven years of Palestine solidarity work in LGBTQ communities, Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (Toronto) will officially retire at the end of the month.

QuAIA was formed in 2008, after a public forum during Israeli Apartheid Week at the University of Toronto where concerns were raised about “pinkwashing”: Israel’s use of gay rights to divert international attention away from the state’s violation of Palestinian human rights. The small activist group was propelled into international celebrity after the pro-Israel lobby attempted to have Pride Toronto’s funding revoked in order to silence Palestine solidarity voices at the 2010 festival.

Over the last seven years, QuAIA’s accomplishments include:

  • Educating Canadians about the conditions of occupation and apartheid policies in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories.

  • Winning rulings under the City of Toronto’s anti-discrimination Policy, Pride Toronto’s Dispute Resolution Process (under Ontario Arbitration Act), and at an Ontario Human Rights Tribunal, that the term Israeli apartheid is a legitimate form of political expression, despite aggressive attempts by the Israel lobby to brand criticism of Israeli government policy and actions as hate speech.

  • Making the terms “Israeli apartheid” and “pinkwashing” household words in queer communities in Toronto and around the globe.

  • Fighting attacks by several city politicians and lobbyists on Pride funding.

  • Sparking a community discussion about freedom of expression, censorship and politics at Pride, which led to a major rejuvenation of the festival and challenged the move to turn Pride into a corporate-driven spectacle geared to tourists.

  • Hosting forums, screenings and educational events that built connections and coalitions with other movements for social justice (feminists, anti-Tar Sands activists, First Nations, etc.)

  • Inspiring the formation of other QuAIA groups in queer communities around the world, and promoting dialogue and action on transnational queer politics.

Over the past year, however, the deteriorating situation in the Middle East, Canada’s involvement in attempts to suppress the movement for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel and other pressing issues have pulled activist energies in many directions. Most of the original members who came together during QuAIA’s formative years are now working within a variety of fields and organizations within Toronto and internationally, stretching the small group’s resources to continue in its current form.

“It wasn’t an easy decision to make,” explained group member, Tim McCaskell. “But we decided that retiring QuAIA allows us all to develop new strategies for supporting the Palestine solidarity movement and to make new links across oppressions in our communities.”

“QuAIA did exactly what an activist group should do,” said early spokesperson Elle Flanders. “We organized, we shifted public opinion, we raised awareness, we stood in solidarity and created a space for people to talk about Palestine. We did so through targeted campaigns and endless hours of research and outreach.”

“QuAIA has been a trailblazer in building solidarity with Palestine in Canada,” said Ali Abunimah, author of The Battle for Justice in Palestine. “As Israel launched its effort to ‘pinkwash’ its oppression of the Palestinians and falsely market itself as an LGBTQ haven, QuAIA’s work provided an important political analysis that has educated me and many others about what principled solidarity looks like.”

We in QUIT! were partners with QuAIA in shining a spotlight on israeli and Zionist efforts to coopt the queer movement. We were so inspired by their humongous map banner that we made a version of it to use in demonstrations during last year’s assault on Gaza. One of their last acts as a group was to agree to cosponsor Outside The Frame-Queers for Palestine Film Festival. We’re sorry to lose them but know that the work they did will live on.

No New SF Jail

California’s prisons are still so overcrowded that in February 2014, the courts again granted state government an additional two years to reduce the population to 137.5% of design capacity.

California has made some progress, and the main tool has been the 2011 “prison realignment.” From 2011 through June 2014, the state prison population fell by 25,000, largely by sending people convicted of new non-violent, non-serious, non-sexual, felony offenses from state  prisons to county jails. As of February 2014, total daily county jail populations in California had increased by 12 percent, or over 9,000 people. A 2013 survey of county sheriffs found that there were 1,109 prisoners in county jails serving 5- to 10-year sentences, and 44 serving terms of more than 10 years. Even if you supported the prison industrial complex, doesn’t that seem like a lot of time for a non-violent, non-serious, non-sexual offense? Some prisoners who have qualified for parole from state prisons have been placed on “post-release community supervision” instead of state supervised parole. Sanctions for most parole or PRCS violations would not result in a return to state prison, but could result in up to 90 days in a county jail. This has also shifted the prison population to jails.

Of course, most of the jails were already over-crowded, and lacked medical, dental, and mental health services, and lacked training, education and re-entry programs. The state jail commission estimated, for example, that 13, 500 people were released early in October 2013 from jails across the state due to overcrowding.

Built into prison realignment was a mechanism for providing additional resources to counties, which could be used to build additional jail space, or to support prevention programs and alternatives to incarceration.  Counties compete for funding each year.

Since 2013, sheriff ross mirkarimi has been pushing a plan which would rebuild SF’s main jail, with a net loss of 100 jail beds. The plan would cost about $465 million, to come from a combination of realignment funds from the state, and the rest from the city. Currently, about 1/3 to ½ of the beds in San Francisco’s 4 jails are empty. Most of the beds are occupied by pre-trial detentions – people who are not released on their own recognizance or who can’t make bail. Mirkarimi’s plan would include jails with special “pods” for different populations, such as a “trans-friendly” pod. Mirkarimi also would increase mental health services and other programs.

Californians United for a Responsible Budget (CURB) has been leading a statewide fight to stop prison and jail construction. In SF, CURB is working with a coalition of groups, including the Transgender, Gender Variant, and Intersex Justice Project (TGIJP), the Coalition on Homelessness, Critical Resistance, and the Trans* Activists for Justice and Accountability Coalition (“TAJA”), formed after the murder of Taja de Jesus in San Francisco February 1.  These groups have been demanding that rather than rebuild the jail space, the money be used for true community alternatives to incarceration, such as community based mental health programs, youth and job training programs and housing. They note that while it is necessary to have services for people in jail, people should not have to go to jail to get services. According to CURB African Americans are four percent of San Francisco’s population, but 56 percent of its jail population. 

On March 2, the SF Jail Fight Coalition will be rallying outside the Hall of Justice, 850 Bryant St., beginning at 5:30 p.m. The rally will then march to a public meeting hosted by SF Public Works and the SF Sheriff’s Department about the jail project’s environmental review process, to take place at the Community Assessment & Service Center, 564 6th St., from 6pm to 8pm.

For more information on the campaign go to:

Murder of an atheist, the rise of religious extremism in Bangladesh

When U.S. engineer Avijit Roy arrived in Bangladesh about 10 days ago, it was for a three week visit with friends and relatives and to launch his two recent books at a popular national book fair.  His visit was abruptly cut short by religious fanatics who attacked him when he was returning from the last day of the fair - in front of a crowd of people, with knives and cleavers. The vicious attack killed Avijit, 42, on the spot while his wife, Banna, suffered serious injuries and is currently being treated at the ICU of a hospital in Dhaka.

Avijit’s offense was that he was an atheist who had been very vocal about spreading scientific knowledge and debunking religion through his published writings and a popular online blog in Bangla, Mukto-mona (Free Mind), which he had started more than a decade ago. His last two books Obisshahser Dorshon (The Philosophy of Atheists) and Biswasher Virus (The Virus of Faith) focused on science, religion and rationalism. Because of his writings against religion, and Islam in particular, Avijit had received many death threats last year, one of which ominously warned him that while he couldn’t be attacked because he lives in the US, he will be dealt with when he visits Bangladesh.

Home to about 150 million Muslims, Bangladesh is considered a ‘moderate’ Islamic country with a tradition of secularism. However, that tradition has slowly been in decline over the last fifteen years primarily as a result of the influx of Saudi money funding Madrasas. There, impoverished school children have a place to live and are fed meals along with the Saudi version of strict Islamic doctrine, Wahabism. In addition, Bangladeshi migrant labor returning from Arab nations brought with them the conservative traditions of foreign lands where girls’ education is frowned upon, women are expected to wear veils in public and there is increasing level of Islamic orthodoxy. Islamist student groups are now more popular than secular groups even among the elite universities in Bangladesh. Consequently, the country is becoming increasingly polarized between the Islamists and the secularists who are trying to stop the inexorable rise of radical Islam.

Politicians of every color are trying to take advantage of this struggle. When the Islamic party, Jamaat, was in decline and in danger of extinction, the Awami League, the most secular party of the country, allied with Jamaat many years ago in order to bring down the government of the day. The successful outcome of that struggle legitimized the Islamists and in time they became so big (helped by Saudi money, of course) that they are now one of the biggest threats to their erstwhile ally, the Awami League. The Awami League recently came into power through sham elections boycotted by the main opposition parties and has embarked on a massive campaign to eradicate Jamaat along with all other dissent. The attacks against the Islamic party have given rise to the fundamentalists among them, some of whom banded together to form their own separate parties.

In this political milieu the democratic secularists are in a particularly vulnerable position. If they oppose the government’s autocratic methods they risk arrest or even death. If they oppose Islamic fundamentalism they also risk death, though that is rare and primarily focused on high-profile vocal activists like Avijit. Over the last two months 56 people have been killed by random petrol bomb attacks, i.e. burned alive, by opposition activists focused on creating a chaotic situation in order to bring down the unpopular government, while 40 people have been murdered by the government’s para-military force or the police. The government’s authoritarian methods have successfully sealed the fate of the opposition non-Islamist and Islamist forces together – both are fighting for their political survival. In this chaos the fundamentalists look for any opportunity to highlight their own position and raise their profile.

Avajit Roy has not been sitting on the sidelines watching this struggle unfolding in his homeland. Always active, he jumped in the fray lending his voice in support of a secular and democratic society that is based on reason and rationality. So much was his faith in rationality that he brushed aside the death threats saying that he could use reasoning to prevail against those opposed to his writings. In the end, his faith in the humanity of extremist fundamentalists was proven to have been misplaced.

Writer’s note: Avijit was a close family friend, his wife is my sister’s best friend from their high school days. I last saw him when he came to attend my sister’s wedding in Berkeley this past July. He was the first - and so far the only - Bangladeshi to write a book on homosexuality (Samakamita), an issue that he sympathized with very strongly regardless of his own sexual orientation. You can find out more about this amazing person through online searches of his name.

--Tinku Ishtiaq

Good news for Kelly Savage

A California court of appeal recently granted Kelly a hearing at the trial court level. In doing so, the court of appeal effectively overruled the Attorney General’s arguments against Kelly’s legal claims. The Superior Court in Tulare County will hold a hearing on Kelly’s right to a new trial, this time with the testimony of expert witnesses in the field of intimate partner battering and its effects. Kelly’s pro-bono lawyers have again reached out to Attorney General Kamala Harris to try to settle this case without further court involvement, but she continues to be unresponsive.
Check for future updates.

It is still important to petition Kamala Harris, CA Attorney General: Kelly is a domestic violence survivor serving her 19th year in prison for a crime she did not commit. In 1995, Kelly’s abusive husband killed her son Justin after she put her children to sleep and left the house to run errands in preparation to leave with her children the next day. Her ex-husband has since confessed his responsibility for Justin’s death, telling Kelly in a letter he wrote from prison last year that “I should of let you all get away from me.”

Kelly’s trial and conviction rested on the prosecution exploiting myths and misconceptions of survivors of abuse. Even Kelly’s own defense attorney told the jury that she was negligent for not leaving her abusive husband, a damaging and inaccurate argument that hurt her case. Kelly’s history of abuse began when she was less than four years old. She sustained a lifetime of rapes, beatings and other abuse by a succession of family members, acquaintances and two husbands, including the husband who killed Justin.

Kelly was not present for her son’s killing, but the DA blamed her for not escaping and saving her children sooner, ignoring the very real and documented dangers associated with attempting to leave an abusive partner. The DA also exploited Kelly’s history of abuse to suggest that she didn’t run because she enjoyed the beatings, and sacrificed her son to “please” her abusive husband. Kelly was convicted of first-degree murder for “aiding and abetting” her abusive husband, and sentenced to Life Without Possibility of Parole.

California’s Intimate Partner Battering legislation allows Kelly to petition for a review of her conviction by introducing expert testimony about her abuse that was not allowed in her trial. Kelly’s defense was severely harmed by the absence of expert testimony to explain how prolonged intimate partner battering was relevant to her case. Kelly’s lawyer and trial judge fought her request for an expert in domestic violence who could have testified on her behalf.

In prison, Kelly has the respect of prisoners and prison staff alike. She keeps her heart and spirit strong by focusing on helping other prisoners. Since learning more about domestic violence and the cycle of abuse, Kelly leads support groups for others. Kelly also works hard to raise money within the prison. She helps raise more than $9000 a year to send to a low-income school in Madera, paying for basic school supplies and computers for local kids. Kelly is also one of few approved caregivers in a Comfort Care program, where she gives needed support to dying and incapacitated prisoners.

Through the California Habeas Project and Free Battered Women, now the California Coalition for Women Prisoners (CCWP), Kelly secured legal help from pro-bono attorneys at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP. Kelly’s petition is currently held up in the appeals court process and the Attorney General is opposing her chance at a fair hearing.

Tell the Attorney General, Kamala Harris, to withdraw her opposition to Kelly’s habeas petition and tell the court to grant her a fair hearing. Domestic violence survivors need care and support, not prison! Add your signature to the petition at Type Kelly Savage in the search box.  Or write to Attorney General Kamala Harris, PO Box 944255, Sacramento, CA 94244. Facebook: please join the group “FreeKelly!” Twitter: @womenprisoners (#FreeKelly)

Ai Wei Wei Lures Me to Alcatraz

by Tory

I have never wanted to visit alcatraz, the decaying prison ruin which sits on a tiny island in the San Francisco bay. An infamous prison, the subject of movies and scary imagination, has long been a focal tourist attraction; a place where crowds of family fun seekers make a day of it, visiting the crumbling concrete cell blocks, laughing nervously at incarceration, remarking on the extreme isolation, the impossibility of escape from the “rock,” playing with miniature handcuff trinkets bought at the gift shop. The island should have remained in the hands of the radical Native American Occupation of 1971, not become a national park complete with tour guide rangers and explanatory movies. However friends had said that the exhibit called @Large, by the Chinese dissent artist Ai Wei Wei, was worth seeing. My sister asked me to go with her.

Ai Wei Wei, no stranger to state subjugation, is not allowed to leave china. His office and studio are under surveillance at all times, because of his varied resistance to the chinese government about issues of corruption and repression of individual expression. Among other things, he took on his government by leading a citizens’ investigation of a collapse of a school during an earthquake because of poor construction. He displayed the names of 5000 children who died in this collapse on the wall of his office. He suffered a cerebral hemorrhage as a result of a police attack and had emergency surgery in germany. The government demolished his studio, claiming lack of construction permits. He was arrested and jailed for 81 days in 2011, called a deviant and a plagiarist by the state. He supervised the installation of the exhibit from china but he has never been allowed to see it.

As we arrived at alcatraz on the ferry with the throngs of tourists, the first searingly striking impression, is the large dilapidated sign reading united states penitentiary, redecorated with red political graffiti which reads INDIANS WELCOME and once was altered to read UNITED INDIAN PROPERTY, moving reminders of the Native American occupation. In fact all through the prison ruins, a parallel history of that occupation is revealed with graffiti and murals. One particularly poignant is a tribute to Yvonne Oakes, the 13-year-old daughter of Richard Oakes one of the leaders of the occupation, who tragically fell from the guard tower. It is titled “First Casualty.” A huge water tower looms at the top of the fortress island which still reads in red graffiti, WELCOME HOME OF THE FREE INDIAN LAND.

After disembarking the crowd is given annoyingly inspirational speeches by national park guides and led to watch movies about the history. We quickly broke ranks made our way up the hill to the new industries building, home of the alcatraz prison labor, which holds the first room of the @large Ai Wei Wei exhibit, called “With Wind.” Inside the barren crumbling grey concrete work room, suspended from the ceiling, is a huge long segmented colorful paper dragon kite with a big head with twitter bird eyes. The contrast of the brilliant colors of the flying paper against the stone walls of the prison brings to mind the exuberance of the push for freedom from confinement. As you examine the kite you find sayings from people and words woven in and out of the floating dragon. One said PLOTTING, and another UNDERMINING (which brings to mind Queers Undermining Israeli Terrorism!). There were quotes from famous dissidents such as Nelson Mandela and one from Ai Wei Wei saying EVERYONE IS A POTENTIAL CONVICT.

From there we went into a massive hall to an exhibit called “Trace,” with the floors covered with a mosaic carpet made of LEGO portraits of people all over the world imprisoned for speaking out against injustice. At first it is hard to comprehend so many portraits spread out on the floor from so many countries, but after a while they come alive. Along the sides there are books with a key to who each portrait is. Ai Wei Wei and Amnesty International, as well as other human rights organizations, picked the dissidents. There are many women and journalists including Reeyot Alemu, an Ethiopian journalist and editor of the magazine Fetch, which covers issues of social justice poverty and gender. She is serving five years in prison. Another women, Sharmila Chanu, from india is in the 14th year of a hunger strike begun in 2000 to protest the killing of 10 civilians by indian paramilitary forces. She is currently being force fed while incarcerated. Chelsea Manning is included. There were some notable omissions. There are no Palestinians held in Israeli prisons. Mumia Abu Jamal, Leonard Peltier and many other u.s. political prisoners are also omitted.

Perhaps the most unnerving exhibit is called “Refraction,” an installation made of metal tibetan solar cooking panels sprinkled with metal pots and pans, that one looks down on through shattered windows from what was formerly the guards’ gun alley, used to observe the prison workers below. The sculpture looks like a giant wing of bird in flight. Because one stands in this narrow gun alley with the ghosts of prison guards harassing prison laborers, looking down on incarcerated flight, a sense of desperate unease quickly sets in. A young African American woman docent began to talk to us. I said, “I wish I could go down below and touch the metal panels.” She said that part of the piece was to feel the distance and the constriction from the gun alley. Then she went on to say that this very day hillary clinton had been allowed to see the sculpture close up as had other politicians and celebrities. I remarked something about power imbalance, to which she responded in a low quiet voice “it is a cold sculpture.”

The rest of @Large takes place in cell block A and the old prison hospital. The exhibit “Illumination” is two psychiatric observation cells in the hospital, completely tiled in shiny cream and green ceramic tiles, hard and barren of all warmth, still evoking an antiseptic smell, solitary cells for prisoners believed to have psychiatric problems. In one cell Hopi chants are played, a reminder of 19 Hopis incarcerated at alcatraz in 1895 for opposing forced education of Native American children in government boarding schools. In the other cell tibeten monks are chanting. It is eerie and frightening causing a sense of rage and nausea.

Another of the most haunting parts of the exhibit was called is called “Stay Tuned” and takes place inside the cells in cell block A. You walk into minuscule cells with open bars and drab, decayed, broken porcelain sinks. An odd brilliantly silver stainless steel three-legged stool sits in the exact center of each tiny space. One sits on the stool and is surrounded by music from poets and dissidents, people who have been incarcerated. The first cell is a song by Nigerian political musician Fela Kuti, written after the Soweto Uprising against apartheid in 1976 . One cell screams the raucous sacrilegious sounds of Pussy Riot, the russian punk band who was incarcerated for performing inside an orthodox church. In another is a song by Victor Jara the chilean singer, a communist supporter of Salvadore Allende who was tortured and murdered during the military coup. There is music by a Jewish czech composer killed at auschwitz, and in another a song by the Robben Island Singers who were detained for fighting south african apartheid. In yet another cell is Martin Luther King’s speech calling out the us government about the vietnam war. Each cells takes hold and brings the listener a different experience of resistance and rebellion at times so sad and still so hopeful presenting the vast extent of peoples vigorous opposition to the evil empire!

I was entranced by the whole exhibit, especially how it was entwined with the history of alcatraz itself, a place that had its share of political prisoners. For example, a World War I anarchist and conscientious objector was kept in the dark in solitary confinement. Jackson Leonard was incarcerated in 1919 for handing out Industrial Workers of the World literature. It is also important to note that all incarcerated people are political prisoners in this corrupt unequal repressive system. An attempt is being made to transform alcatraz into a place for good, with bird sanctuaries and gardens and now this very interesting art exhibit about the nature of incarceration and resistance. All that being said, the island should have remained in the hands of the Native Americans who occupied it for 19 months in 1969-71. That was an uncompromised act of resistance and community. The state always steals the peoples’ spaces, replacing them with national parks paving over peoples art evicting tearing down encampments. Remember the recent eviction of homeless people and artists off the Albany Bulb, an abandoned construction dumpsite in the East Bay. Like the alcatraz Native American occupation, people had made a free creative community. Like Alcatraz, it is being turned into a regulated park no longer for the people originally involved in the political resistance.


96 hours
47 actions
#ReclaimMLK #MLKalsosaid #BlackLivesMatter

by Kate

When the Oakland-based Anti-Police Terror Project (APTP), in coordination with Ferguson Action and other direct action groups around the country, called for 96 hours of decentralized affinity-group organized actions to Reclaim MLK Day, it seemed like maybe too much too soon.  The organizing didn’t really start til early January, and people were still slowly making their way back from the void called “The Holidays.”  But somehow, come the weekend of January 16-19, the Bay Area was a kaleidoscope of resistance, with actions big and small, confrontational and contemplative, all brilliantly amplified by a sophisticated media team sending out old-fashioned press releases, Twitter feeds and memes and emails.

In all, 47 actions were documented in Oakland alone, adding to hundreds around the country.  Tens of thousands participated in die-ins, blockades, street marches, interventions, interruptions, disruptions, stall-ins, wake-ups, rallies, street art, projections, feed-ins, lie-ins, and no doubt other kinds of things I never even heard about.

The weekend got underway early Friday morning with the much-publicized spoon protest at Montgomery BART station.  Despite ample warning and hundreds of cops and security guards in every shade of neon vest, the protest, which drew a couple hundred people at its peak, managed to shut down four San Francisco stations during the busiest morning commute hours.  Well, actually, the police shut the stations down while we just stood there, banging metal spoons on metal poles to get everyone’s attention.  One guy was arrested for using his spoon to bang on a train car.  The affinity group Q(u)AGMIRE, Queer Affinity Group Militantly Interrupting (or Muttering Incantations against) Racist Empire, in which most LAGAI members participate, became briefly a media magnet on account of having some of the only visual messaging, with our purple WE’RE HERE, WE’RE QUEER, WE’RE OVERTHROWING WHITE SUPREMACY banner.

At the same time, Third World For Black Power, a coalition of organizations including Bayan-USA, Arab Resource & Organizing Center, International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network and Haiti Action Committee, locked down the two main entrances to the federal building in Oakland.  The group managed to hold that space for four hours and 28 minutes – symbolizing the four hours Michael Brown’s body lay in the street and the murder of a Black person by an agent of authority (police, vigilante or security guard) every 28 hours.

Friday night, a group of about 80 queers invaded hipster dining havens on Valencia Street to make connections between gentrification and state violence.  In several establishments, staff and patrons responded very aggressively.  In at least one case, a guy ran out on his date and followed us down the street, demanding that someone stop and argue with him about his right not to have his dinner interrupted for a few minutes.

Saturday night, a hundred or more queers of many races gathered for an action called by queer people of color.  We occupied the intersection of 18th and Castro, while Black queers staged interventions in some of the gay bars.  Queers of color built an altar, and two Latino guys drummed, danced and smudged with sage.  People spoke out and read the names of people killed by police.  Some of the women involved in the bar takeovers came back and reported on their experiences.  Some had chairs and trash cans thrown at them.  Others reported that people applauded and marched out to join the rally.  The crowd in the intersection swelled to several hundred.  We linked arms and calmly moved to extricate ourselves from potentially volatile situations caused by hostile white men insisting on their right to be the center of everything.  We held the intersection for an hour while the police kept their distance and rerouted traffic.  The mood was solemn, intense, unified and loving.

Sunday we joined a large group of almost all white folks from Bay Area Solidarity Action Team for an action at Bay Street Mall in Emeryville.  We marched past the former Woodfin union-busting hotel which is now the Hyatt House and blocked the street leading into the parking lot for four minutes and 28 seconds.  Then we marched into the center of the mall and blocked the main street for 28 minutes, while the Brass Liberation Orchestra played.  Shoppers mostly seemed bemused.  Amanda gave the activists a little education about the shellmounds (Native American burial sites) the mall is built on.

Monday morning activists from the BlackOut Collective, which organized the fabulous BART shutdown on Black Friday, along with people from Black Brunch and Black Lives Matter, paid a pre-dawn visit to new Oakland mayor Libby Schaff, who spent her first day in office with the police, most of whom do not live in the city.  “You chose to prioritize blue, but today you will hear black,” they called out.  The demonstrators arrived in pitch darkness and set up big blue-light signs and projections saying, “#WakeUpYourMayor” and “If We Can’t Breathe, You Can’t Dream.”  They chanted and sang and did call and response.  Libby refused to come out and meet them.  Annoyed neighbors stumbled out with their laptops, called the police and tried to show them the ordinances regarding noise in neighborhoods.  The cops said that the law says you can’t have ten minutes of continuous noise, so every 9 minutes, everyone would get quiet.  They would die-in and chalk around the outlines.  Then they would rise and start chanting and calling out for Libby to come out.  Libby never appeared but finally around 7:30, her husband showed up at the kitchen window making coffee, so the protesters know they were heard.

Dozens more actions took place throughout the Bay during the weekend.  The People’s Grocery held a meditation-in at West Oakland BART on Monday morning, putting up a big tent.  The San Francisco Coalition on Homelessness and other groups served coffee to people sleeping out at Powell Street BART station on Sunday night, to protest the infamous sit-lie law forbidding people from getting rest if they don’t have houses.  Fuck The Police marchers ran through Oakland.  Temescal neighbors projected liberatory films and images at an empty lot in the fast-gentrifying neighborhood.  Another group descended on Trader Joes in Rockridge.

Some actions were organized with lots of security, others were put out very publicly.  A friend and I decided spontaneously to project images onto the Scottish Rite Center while people were going into the big MLK Day Concert on Sunday night, and had some good conversations.  On MLK Day, Monday, an estimated 10,000 people converged at Fruitvale BART, where Oscar Grant III was killed by BART police six years ago, for a long rally (that most of us couldn’t hear, unfortunately) followed by a march to the Coliseum to protest a development project being planned without community input or benefit.  The protest demanded that the three-stadium project intended to keep the Oakland Raiders include:  1) Decision-making by residents of East Oakland on the plans for Coliseum City and surrounding areas; 2) A hiring policy ensuring that jobs go to Blacks and Latinos in proportion to the percentages of these groups living in East Oakland and including jobs for the disenfranchised who are on probation and parole; 3) No displacement of local small businesses and expanded opportunities for minority businesses; and 4) All housing developed with city funds should be affordable to Oakland families at the median income.

APTP, echoing Ferguson Action, requested that all actions use the hash tags #MLKAlsoSaid and #ReclaimMLK to call attention to the undercommemorated parts of Dr. King’s legacy.  While the media plays “I have a dream” and “People will be judged not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character,” nonstop in January (and seldom else), they seldom play, “A riot is the language of the unheard,” or “There comes a time when silence is betrayal.”

In recent years, the government has encouraged people to engage in “service” on MLK Day, serving at soup kitchens or volunteering at churches.  One young blogger reported that while in college, he was assigned to paint football uprights for his MLK Day service.  But King, the organizers pointed out, while he no doubt sometimes served food (though mostly, it was probably the women who did it) is not a legend because of that kind of service.  The reason we celebrate MLK Day is because of his role in designing and carrying out dramatic, confrontational actions to force social change.  That’s what APTP and the other groups participating in this national weekend of actions wanted to do.  And that’s what we all did.

Our Inside Voices – Writings from Prison

Even a Bona Fide Gangster

Thank you for the Winter issue of UltraViolet. One story in there by Ronald Lane really reached out and grabbed me.  Reason is because just like him, I’m also a “closet” Bi-Male, but for the same reason as him, I fear coming out.  It’s very scary when everyone knows you as a Bone-Fide Gangster, then out of no-where, you come out and show another side of you, that no one you run with, will accept.  It makes me wonder if it’s safe to come out or not.  And it’s not that I’m ashamed of it but rather I’m afraid of becoming a victim.  Ronald’s story has given me mild courage to try to work on how I could come out without fear. I can’t get prison to prison mail though.  Sorry.

G. Hernandez #H-07444, CSP-SAC/B5-130-Low, PO Box 290066, Represa CA 95671

Follow Up Story    

To all of the family of the LGBT community, I wanted to write just a short thank you. After my short story, “Fear of Being Caught” was in the winter UV, the overwhelming support from so many of you was wonderful.  I so feel accepted and have a whole new family. There are so many others like me out there.  But with the amount of letters I received from coast to coast reaching out, I wish I could respond to all…However due to a few reasons that is impossible for me to do.  For one, a lot of the places people have written from have returned my letters saying not allowed [ed. Note: prison to prison mail is often forbidden] and second, due to my own financial situation, I can’t afford to respond.  I just want you all to know I have gotten all your letters of support.  From Ohio, Colorado, Wisconsin, California, Arizona, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Illinois, Louisiana and North Dakota.  I want to thank so many for showing me how much the LGBT community cares for another of the family.

But I want my LGBT family to know I’m never going to feel ashamed fo the real me anymore…Before I close, I would like to thank UV for their support of me and by their publishing my short story, they have given me the best gift of all… I am Bi and I am Gay, I love both men and women and I’m so proud of who I am…There will always be people, “others”, who hate me and want to hurt me, but I’m me and I’m no longer ashamed of me or ashamed of loving another man.  Love is love.  I did want to say thank you so much to Angel.

Ronald Lane #469085, W.C.I. PO Box 351, Waupun WI 53963

Prison Rape

The Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA), meant to protect prisoners from rape, from being soldomized by force, by use of threat or intimidation to coerce compliance, is actually being used in Washington State DOC to punish gay inmates for their gayness, to segregate and isolate gay inmates for being gay, to harass and intimidate gay inmates who are openly out and about advocating a loud and proud gay lifestyle and to separate gay lovers who would dare to fall in love and be close or intimate, even enjoying a non-sexual relationship. I am Raeve, my true love and alpha life mate is D____, and we are now victims of an abuse of the PREA system.  I am in the Hole, being transferred to Coyote Ridge [prison], to be separated from my dearest pet (who is to be my future husband), whom I love and who also loves me.  We are promised.  The Staff claims that they saw us holding hands and sitting close to each other, giving the appearance of intimacy. There is no rule violation, no interaction, our relationship was not “sexual’ and completely consensual and mutual so could not be a PREA concern.  This is purely harassment and punishment.

My chest feels crushed, I cannot breathe.  My heart feels pierced. I cannot scream.  I am a feral wolf in a box, in a cage, on a bus gone far away…  I will not be here to share anything with my lover for months, and I am afraid I might lose him…

Raevehn, Monroe, WA

Prison Rules in Arkansas

This directive [for Arkansas] states that any and all publications may be rejected due to homosexuality as well as many other restrictions.  This same directive also lists homosexuality in the same category as violence, sexual or verbal abuse and illegal discrimination.  It is also stated that “publications may be rejected if they are believed” to contain this type of information. In this same reasoning would it not be logical to stop accepting inmates who are or who are believed to be homosexual?

With their own reasoning and logic there should be NO homosexuals in any prison lin the state of Arkansas. It has gotten to the point that [it is impossible]even to get some religious materials because of the Pentagram, as they say it is a STTG symbol (a gang symbol).

The worst is that it has gotten to the point that we have had to go to court for them to allow RPG (Role Playing Game) books because of the symbols allowed for the fantasy religions and the fact that in their words, “It promotes witchcraft and other Satanic religious practices”.  Yes, I’m homosexual, no I don’t play fantasy games but yes, I am a long-time practicing pagan, and such statements and comparisons are extremely offensive, very detrimental and let’s not leave out repulsive.  I would like to get the opinion of others on this matter.

Jason D. Stump #147483, PO Box 970, Marianna AR 72360

Shorts from Inside

-- Thank you for all the work that you do and for the avenue in which you provide to us to let our stories of Pain, Love, hurt and injustice be heard. Charlie S. AKA Calley, Marienville PA

-- I continue to read and enjoy LAGAI very much.  It’s so informative and I do pass it on to others.  I think I have it bad, but not really when I read about some of the stories in the LAGAI! So I’m blessed even though I’ve been in prison 23 [years] doing a life sentence and I’m in my 70’s!  I go to the Parole Board again in May, 2015.  Jan La Rosa, Marysville OH

-- Please accept my request for info on our insurrection and what I may do to help.  Mark T. Raiford, FL

-- This LAGAI-Queer Insurrection Newsletter was a godsend and I don’t mean that in any religious sense because I identify myself as a Bi-ethnic Jamaican-American Multi-Racial who is African East Indian East Asian and Caucasian by heritage, Queer AndroHomophile Non Conformist Godless Atheist Agnostic Nondenominational Unchurch Unchristian Irreligious Man Person. Robert Lee P. Wewahitchka, FL

-- Stay fierce, stay fab and fight the power.  S.H. Pontiac IL

Transitioning the Hardway: Validation           

Hello all, Lennea here, I would like to discuss out internal needs for validation who we are as transwomen and transmen.  I, for one knew from when I was 4 years old that I was a girl, but yet my parents made sure I was a boy and would not embarrass them by being “A Queer”.   By the time I was 13 I was dating men in their 20’s.  Even as an adult I was always looking for validation in myself as a transwoman in the arms of men…When I wasn’t doing this I would watch pornography on my VCR.  Then the worst invention in history was introduced to me, the Internet.

I was hooked, I would search and watch scenes with women that I wished I looked like, the more I watched the more insecure I got in my body.  I hated everything about my body; too male, too big, too tall, too everything.  Why was I made this way?  Why did my parents fail me?  Why did god fail me?

…Then one day the FBI and ICE units served a warrant on my house in Dallas and Las Vegas and out of 31,536 images, they found 9 videos of minors. Even tho they were inadvertently downloaded and deleted as soon as I saw what they were, I received 87 months in a Federal Prison (a male prison) and am considered a sex offender and must register as one.  My entire life searching for the validation which I never found was lost.  Even tho my journey in life prior to incarceration was full of lies, adultery, unsafe sexual encounters and time waste, it was the life I choose. I cannot blame my ex-wife who tried so hard to help me, my parents, my sister or even the guys that used me, I have only myself to blame for I was searching for something that I had all along and as a result lost everything in the pursuit.  The validation I sought and needed so much was my own, I needed to accept me for the woman I was.

During this 5 years of incarceration being the only transwoman on the compound in the deep south taught me a very important lesson, life is yours to live, live it for yourself, give yourself the validation which you need, no one else can validate you unless you have embraced yourself for who you are, for that is true validation.  I came to prison thinking of suicide, thinking my life was over, though what happened was just the opposite.  I learned to live.  I learned to love myself.  I learned that if you embrace yourself truthfully and respectfully, others, even in this environment, will return in kind.

…I release in 2015, I have a new life, I cannot change my past but I can advocate and hopefully help our brothers and sisters to learn by my mistakes.  We see role models like Laverne Cox and Janet Mock and I only wish I had a role model like them in the ‘70s…I will be a 53 year old, 5’10” transwoman starting a new life when I get out with no place to live, no job, no car, no person to hold me on those hard nights, but I have something better, something stronger, I have myself.  My validation is with me…

As usual, feel free to contact me at: Lennea Elizabeth Stevens #16786-078, PO Box 7007 Marianna FL 32447

Your Perception is my Deception

I’m perceived as strong, confident and real but in all essence I’m scared, lonely and lost.  I fear being judged, ostracized, hated, misunderstood.  Most of all I fear accepting reality and the real truth is I am a bi-sexual and I love both genders. This is hard for me and I need to do this to prove to myself that I am not a coward.  Prove that I both love and accept myself.  Most importantly, prove that I can stop living a lie.

I have no support and it’s hard. There’s no LGBTQ group to seek counseling from…I endure every millisecond of the long dreary days in my maximum security cell…I know community is good.  Community is love.  Community is support.  Community is knowing you’re not alone.  Community is family. You have 2 families; the one you’re related to and the most important is the one you’re created to. I need help from my community, my family.  I have taken claim to being a 25 year old bi-man and I’m proud but scared. Could somebody reach out and help a Brotha when he’s down? I need to hear supportive criticism and feel a part of our community.  One day I may her from you soon.  Tracy Greer #1153032, S.C.C.C. 255 W. Hwy 32, Licking MO 65542  

When High Tech Gets Really Low

by Blue

This week the SF Chronicle reported that video visits were being introduced into some California prisons and jails. This technology is in prisons and jails across the country and has replaced contact visits in many facilities.  Prison Policy Initiative a non-profit advocacy group reports that 74% of facilities that use video visits have discontinued in-person visits altogether. Securus Technologies of Dallas, Texas, one of the provider companies, requires the eliminating of face-to-face visits as part of their installation contract.

According to Securus’ website, they have video phone systems in 2200 correctional facilities in the US. Prisons may benefit from this technology but prisoners and their friends and families definitely do not. The video calls are expensive and inmates and/or their visitors must bear the costs. While the FCC has imposed a limit on what can be charged for phone calls, nothing regulates the video visit company from charging the person who is not in prison for using the technology as well as the person in prison.. Securus makes money at both ends. Also, the technology does not always work and depends on owning a webcam, computer and internet service with a fast connection when used from the visitor’s home.

Video visits are also being used in the jails and not just for long-distance visiting. So when you go to see a person in prison you may only see each other by video, not in person, not through glass or wire. Video visits are not private. They are recorded and reviewed. This impersonal form of visiting “sucks,” as one visitor aptly expressed. Prison officials and video companies claim that video visits reduce contraband getting into prisons. But most contraband is brought in by the prison guards not by friends and family of inmates.

It is well known that prisoners who have regular visits and contact with people on the outside are less likely to go back to prison and are better off on the outside when they are released. A consultant hired by the Department of Justice last year reported that relying solely on video technology for inmate visits is a bad idea. “Traditional, in-person visiting is a best practice that should continue in all correctional settings when possible.”

Bottom line: The only one truly benefiting from video visitations are the companies selling the technology to the prison industrial complex.  

Federal Prosecutor Wants Long Sentence for Rasmea

Last November, a federal jury in Michigan found Rasmea guilty of immigration and naturalization fraud for failing to disclose her conviction by an israeli military court in 1969 for helping to organize a series of bombings in Jerusalem.  Rasmea has always said that she was forced to make a false confession in spite of her innocence after weeks of torture and sexual assault by israeli interrogators.

When Rasmea returns to Judge Gershwin Drain’s Detroit courtroom on March 12, 2015 for sentencing, the prosecution will ask that her sentence to be based on the acts which the israeli occupation authorities accused her of 45 years ago. The defense has asked the judge not to sentence Rasmea, who spent a month in jail after her conviction and is now free on bail, to any further prison time before she is deported. Sentencing guidelines put together by an officer of the court say Rasmea’s conviction falls within the 10 to 18 month range.

Even tho at the trial the judge insisted that the focus be only on the truth of her immigration and naturalization forms, not on the acts of which she was accused in 1969 or the circumstance under which she was convicted, the prosecution will try to make the sentencing hearing all about Israel. But needless to say, the prosecution will not bring up, as Rasmea’s lawyer wrote in a letter to the judge,  “… the illegal 1967 massacres and occupation — let alone the military ethnic cleansing of 750,000 Palestinians from the land and their homes when Palestine was partitioned in 1948 — not the midnight sweeps and kidnapping by the invading army after the 1967 war, not the torture, not the kangaroo court and false confessions, not the prison time.”

Rasmea's case is only one of a larger campaign in this country against Palestinian leaders, institutions, community members and solidarity activists.

There is still time to take action and try to affect the sentencing hearing on March 12th.   Go to for examples of letters to write to the judge and to local papers.  There’s more info at; how to donate to the defense and buy Shero or Justice for Rasmea T-Shirts; write op-eds, hold House Parties, use her picture as your own profile picture.

We can’t let the fbi and the government win this case. Or any other case either!

Update:  On March 12, the judge sentenced Rasmea to 18 months in prison.  However, she is out on bail pending appeal.  We can still turn this around!  Go to to find out how to help.


By Chaya and Deni



Boring, pretentious, shallow, self-important, politically dishonest, homophobic, racist, phony, sexist, misogynist, trite piffle! Endless and vapid. And did we mention we didn’t like it? The few decent lines didn’t make up for much in two hours and forty minutes of eternity (who cares if it took them 12 years to achieve this), especially with so much bad acting.


Directed by Ava DuVernay, this film tells the story about the 1965 struggle for voting rights in Selma, Alabama as led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The acting by David Oyelowo as Dr. King was quite strong, as were some of the supporting roles. Deni particularly liked Wendell Pierce in the role of Dr. Josea Williams (he was great in Treme and The Wire). The story is about a time in history that still inspires people in their work for justice in this country, and clearly connects to the ongoing work of groups like Black Lives Matter in illustrating the historical roots of racism. The film can serve to educate generations who aren’t taught this history in school, but we found it disappointing for several reasons. Despite this dramatic historical event, the film seemed flat and didn’t really grab us. The writing was sometimes contrived and inauthentic; there were too many “talky” scenes without dramatic tension; and Coretta Scott King was portrayed in a standard female role, her strength exhibited mostly by her willingness to overlook her husband’s affairs and support his work. The important roles of women in the Civil Rights Movement were seriously under-represented. Diane Nash – a key organizer and strategist – was included almost as window dressing, given just about 1 meaningful line in the movie. Too bad they left out Sheyann Webb, who at 8 years old, snuck out of her house to attend civil rights meetings at the church, led the congregation in freedom songs, and began skipping school to attend demonstrations. She was on that March 7, 1965 march from Selma to Montgomery, the youngest one there. When the marchers crossed the bridge and were attacked by police, Sheyann ran back across the bridge, helped by Dr. Josea Williams. Surely some of the talky stuff in the movie could have been left out to inspire us with Sheyann’s story.

All this said, it was clearly unacceptable for the Oscars to so ignore Selma in its nominations. Twitter boycotts were called of the Oscars (#boycottoscars, #OscarsSoWhite) and we did observe that boycott (ok, not such a hardship even for us filmies, the Oscars being so generally annoying and offensive.) But online we were able to watch John Legend after he and Common accepted the award for Best Song for “Glory” from Selma when he said: “We know that right now the struggle for freedom and justice is real. We live in the most incarcerated country in the world,” Legend said. “There are more black men under correctional control today than there were under slavery in 1850.”


Benedict Cumberbatch is terrific in the true story of Alan Turing, the brilliant British mathematician and logician recruited by the British government during World War II to crack the Enigma code that encrypted the Nazi’s messages. The “thriller” part of the movie is watching Turing figure out how to do it. Credited with helping to end World War II sooner, Turing is considered the father of modern computer science. The movie somewhat downplayed but did not eliminate Turing’s identity as a gay man. Homosexuality was illegal in Britain until 1967. During the investigation of a burglary that took place at Turing’s home after the war, he told the police that he was homosexual. He was charged with gross indecency and pled guilty. In lieu of prison, he chose probation with chemical castration by estrogen treatments for a year. Turing lost his security clearance and was stigmatized by homophobia. Fourteen months later, in 1954, Turing was found dead at his home, apparently from cyanide poisoning, although a controversy remains as to whether the exposure to the cyanide was accidental. He was 41. The movie was quite engaging, well written and well acted with an excellent supporting cast including Keira Knightly and Alan Leech. The British government issued a posthumous apology to Turing in 2009, but it wasn’t until a petition in 2013, signed by more than 37,000 people and led by Stephen Hawking and other eminent scientists, that Queen Elizabeth II granted a rare “mercy” pardon to Turing. Hawking considers Turing one of the most important mathematicians in history.


Deni: I thought Birdman was excellent, I really enjoyed it. Great acting all around, especially Michael Keaton’s tour de force performance, stunning cinematography, great mix of humor, pathos, insightful reflection, and of course definitely great directing by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu. Inarritu is an eloquent speaker. When accepting his Best Director Oscar he said, "I just want to take the opportunity, I want to dedicate this award for my fellow Mexicans, the ones who live in Mexico. I pray that we can find and build the government that we deserve.” Interpreted as a direct criticism of Mexican President Nieto, his comments sparked a top-trending hashtag in Mexico, #ElGobiernoQueMerecemos, with witty comments and graphics. See the movie in a theater if you can – this one deserves a big screen.    

Chaya: Nothing I read about Birdman mentioned that the cinematography was all fast moving, hand-held camera work. We saw it in a very small (4 row) theater, and my motion sickness kicked in big time, so it was not a pleasant experience for me. I do appreciate some of the things Inarritu did (fantasy/reality interplay, exploring what defines someone’s world and their perspective on it). I thought some of the acting and writing was unnecessarily overdone. But it was very creative.


Wild is based on the true story of a woman (Reese Witherspoon) hiking the Pacific Crest Trail to deal with a divorce, previous bad life choices, and most importantly, the death of her mother (Laura Dern). Both Witherspoon and Dern are strong actors, and the performances felt authentic. Cheryl Strayed, author of the memoir (Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail), was involved in the production and Reese took Strayed to the Golden Globe Awards as her date. The film was done well, including the numerous flashbacks into the past as she hikes over 1,000 miles alone. But we felt the film was a little flat compared to the book, not just because of the depth that books can have in relation to a movie. It needed a little more oomph. Reese recently formed a production company and was one of the film’s producers, and we’re glad to see her taking more control of her films. Wild is that rare film that passes the Bechdel movie test (2 women talking to each other about something other than men). In a recent interview, Witherspoon said she’s often asked why she never plays weak characters. Her response was, “I don’t know any weak women.”


We watched 20 minutes of it and turned it off. We liked Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom (2012), and his quirky approaches in other films have worked. But despite the high-powered cast, we found Budapest boring and annoying and couldn’t get into it.


Some wonderful short films, moving and funny, which can be streamed on Vimeo. “Parvaneh” is a Swiss film about a young Afghan immigrant woman named Parvaneh who works in a remote area in the Swiss Alps. When she travels to Zurich to try to send her mother money for her sick father, she develops a relationship with a hip young Swiss woman. The difficulties of being an immigrant and the connection between the two women create a story that challenges stereotypes and renews hope. In the Irish film “Boogaloo and Graham,” set in Belfast during The Troubles, two young brothers are given baby chicks by their dad, and their attachment to the growing chicks plays out amidst the hardships of daily life. Good acting and writing, a charming and funny film despite the armed British troops on patrol. “Butter Lamp,” a film from France and China, portrays groups of Tibetan nomadic families posing for a traveling photographer in front of a series of oddly contrasting backgrounds. A moving and insightful film that delivers a strong visual impression with low-key cinematic action. Very offbeat and inventive. “The Phone Call” from Great Britain stars Sally Hawkins in an excellently acted role as a worker at a crisis center, handling a call from a man who has given up on life and just wants someone to talk to at his life’s end. It’s an emotional and gripping film, though in a more traditional format than the others films. Last and least was the annoying and boring Israeli film “Aya,” which I feel sure I would’ve disliked even if it wasn’t from Israel and didn’t show endless miles of highways that constantly made me think about the Israeli roads that are “for Jews only.”


ZUCKERBERG-CHAN GENERAL HOSPITAL AND TRAUMA CENTER FOR TREATMENT OF FACEBOOK BUS INJURIES TO PROTESTERS  Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla are giving $75 million to the San Francisco General Hospital Foundation. In exchange, the new hospital building and the soon-to-be renovated existing SFGH will be called The Priscilla and Mark Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center. The cockles of our hearts are getting warmed (and we don’t even know what they are) just thinking about a county hospital that treats poor and uninsured people, named after a tech billionaire. But, just for fun, we thought we’d calculate what percentage of the Zuckerberg fortune this $75 million gift represents. The Zuckerbergs have an estimated $33.3 billion, so $75 million is a paltry .2% ! You read that right – it’s less than half a percent of their money. But, just as a reference point, if a family had an income of $50,000 and gave away .2%, it would be $100! Go Zuckerbergs! But who’s counting? Surely not Priscilla, who is more concerned with the non-monetary things in life. According to the Zuckerberg-Chan relationship contract, Priscilla is guaranteed one non-virtual date per week with Mark, for a minimum of a hundred minutes of alone time, and it can’t be at Facebook’s offices. Awwww.

HAVING TROUBLE DISLIKING TAYLOR SWIFT ENOUGH?  This should do it: she’s planning a concert in Israel this summer netting her $2.5 million. On her website she says: “Let’s try to avoid topics and conversations that lean towards political or religious topics. In the end, someone will inevitably get offended and this just isn’t the place for that.” Guess what, Taylor. Not honoring the cultural boycott with a performance in Israel is political. And we’re offended.

GOOD NEWS/BAD NEWS  Taking a lead from the HuffPost’s new feature of “good news” stories, the Mocha Column is going to indulge in a little of same, but with a twist: the good news, followed by the bad. 

GN/BN: Good news: In early February, the federal government pledged $3.2 million to help save the monarch butterfly. Bad news: The species has experienced a 90% population drop due to capitalist habitat destruction, the rise of genetically modified crops, and Monsanto’s herbicides which kill the milkweed the monarch’s larvae need. So, the feds are throwing a pittance at a major capitalist-created environmental nightmare. Monarchs yes, Monsanto no!

GN/BN: Good news: Due to strong community organizing, civil liberties lawsuits, and public investigations, NYC has taken steps to end solitary confinement in 2016 for incarcerated people under 21 years old. (We know, the fact that this has existed all these years is so awful that ending it hardly seems like good news, not to mention waiting a whole year, but…) Bad news: The Board of Correction (BOC) only agreed to go along with the youth solitary ban if NYC meets the following bad conditions: hiring more guards and prison staff, putting in a new $15 million “security” camera network, and building a new 250-bed housing unit known as “enhanced supervision housing” (ESHU), in which “violent” prisoners will be locked in their cells for 17 hours a day, rather than the standard 10 hours. Mayor de Blasio’s proposed budget includes the funding for these conditions, a position he was forced into by the BOC to get the solitary ban. Tear down the walls, don’t give them more funding!

FOLLOW THE MONEY  In a revelation worthy of a great heist film, it was announced in February that up to $1 billion has been taken from banks worldwide by a sophisticated group of hackers. The NY Times says that “the scope of this attack on more than 100 banks and other financial institutions in 30 nations could make it one of the largest bank thefts ever — and one conducted without the usual signs of robbery.” This “redistribution” of funds has been going on for over two years, according to a Russian cybersecurity firm, Kaspersky Lab. Really, to get the full impact of the story, check out the online NY Times article with its great graphic illustrations of how the hackers are doing it. We at the Mocha Column are hoping that these hackers are a Robin Hood band, and will be funding queer anti-capitalist insurrection projects around the world any minute now. Those so-called “banks made of marble with a guard at every door” seem awfully vulnerable to cyberattacks. Perhaps Kaspersky Lab would like to work more closely with the FBI in cybersecurity. See next item.

FBI SEEKS ETHICAL HACKERS TO JOIN CYBERBRANCH  According to a spokesperson for the bureau’s criminal, cyber, response and services branch, “The FBI is seeking highly talented, technically trained individuals who are motivated by the FBI’s mission to protect our nation and the American people from the rapidly evolving cyberthreat. Experience in ethical hacking is a plus.” (Lest you think we made this up, it was reported in the mainstream media in late December.) To sign up, get 3 references and send them to the Mocha Column. We’ll shred them.

YOU DON’T OWN ME/LIVE LONG AND PROSPER  A fond farewell to 2 icons of the 1960s, who were both beamed up last week – Leslie Gore (a lesbian) and Leonard Nimoy (a Vulcan).


We Can Save CCSF

When the Accreditation Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) acted to revoke the accreditation of City College of San Francisco in 2013, the un-elected Board of Governors (BOG) indefinitely suspended the democratically elected seven-member Board of Trustees, and handed over unilateral power to an appointed Special Trustee with Extraordinary Powers (STWEP).

That decision was found to be unlawful by CA Superior Court Judge Curtis Karnow. Both Chancellor Harris and former BOG President Manuel Baca have stated they would not have suspended the elected Board, except for the ACCJC's assurances that such a move would save the college from dis-accreditation—assurances that proved to be patently untrue. But in February 2015, Harris announced that the board will not be given back their powers until July. He appointed a new STWEP.

Save CCSF has a petition demanding the immediate return of the City College of San Francisco democratically elected Board of Trustees! No STWEP! To sign the petiion and for more info:

We’re Gonna Roll the Union On

There’s so much money swirling around Silicon Valley and the tech companies that thrive there.  But the service workers who cook and clean and do security for those companies do not share in that wealth.  The companies shout about how environmentally friendly they are by providing shuttle bus service for their high paid workers but they don’t pay the drivers of those shuttle buses a living wage.  Instead they contract out that work to some other company so they can claim it’s not their fault. On Feb 27th, drivers for workers at Yahoo, Google, Apple, Genentech, eBay and Zynga voted 104 to 38 to join the Teamsters union in an election overseen by the National Labor Relations Board.

 In November, drivers for Facebook, employed by Loop Transportation, voted to unionize, also with the Teamsters, and just signed their first contract which provides for higher wages, full health insurance and paid sick and vacation time.

The Teamsters plan to use that contract as the new standard for all the shuttle bus drivers who ferry high-tech workers from their homes in San Francisco, the East Bay and elsewhere to their offices in the valley. I still hate all those huge and ugly shuttle buses that clog up city streets and park in MUNI bus stops but, as a former bus driver for MUNI, We are very glad that the drivers of those buses now have a union that can guarantee them decent working conditions.

Congrats Cuban 5 - Hands Off Assata!

The Cuban Five (Gerardo Hernandez, Antonio Guerrero, Ramon Labañino, Fernando González, and René González) were arrested in the late 1990s on espionage charges here in the U.S., but they weren't spying on the U.S. government. The 5 were in Miami infiltrating Cuban-American paramilitary groups that were based in Miami and dedicated to the violent overthrow of the Cuban government. René González was released in 2011, Fernando González was released in early 2014, and the remaining three were released on Decemeber 17, 2014 as part of the Obama administration’s thawing of political relations with Cuba. There has been growing support in the US to end the embargo against Cuba and normalize diplomatic relations. Upon the return to Cuba of the last three of the Cuban 5, there were huge demonstrations in Cuba celebrating their return.

Assata Shakur is a freedom fighter, living in political exile in Cuba since 1979. In the 1970’s she was a member of the Black Panther Party, the Black Liberation Army, and the Republic of New Afrika. Targeted and vilified by COINTELPRO, Assata was subjected to a series of trials and was imprisoned in the 1970’s. In 1979, she escaped a New Jersey prison and lived in the US as a fugitive for several years. In 1984, Assata fled to Cuba and was granted political asylum there, where she continues to live. After the recent thawing of US/Cuba relations, New Jersey pressured Cuba to return Assata to the US. Josefina Vidal, Cuba’s foreign ministry head of North American affairs has said that Cuba would not return Assata. “We’ve explained to the U.S. government in the past that there are some people living in Cuba to whom Cuba has legitimately granted political asylum,” Vidal said. “There’s no extradition treaty in effect between Cuba and the U.S.” So, you can go from the US to Cuba now and bring back cigars, but hands off Assata!

Black Women’s Lives Matter
Oakland Film Premiere
Tales of the Grim Sleeper

A new film by Nick Broomfield that highlights the devaluation of Black women’s lives and the lives of sex workers.

Wednesday, March 18th, 7pm
Omni Commons Ballroom
4799 Shattuck Ave (nr 48th St.)

Donations welcome

Organized by US Prostitutes Collective,


Check out previous issues of UltraViolet