It’s time to make a way out of no way. Censorship of the Bay View around the country – originally because prison authorities fear the widespread prison strikes to end slavery – appears to have become a habit, a way to kill the paper once and for all.
We have physical evidence now that the major media can report on prison strikes and not be censored. Malik Washington in Texas sent a clipping from The Wall Street Journal headlined, “Prison Protests Hit States.”
The Wall Street Journal was not banned, but the Bay View has been banned in Texas for that very reason for two months – and in Pennsylvania for three months. Doesn’t that sound like racism?
The Bay View shouldn’t be banned for telling prisoners about the strikes if other media are also reporting on them and not being banned. By now, it’s safe to say that every prisoner in the U.S. has heard about the strikes, most from the major media.
Considering no one has come forward to defend the Bay View’s First Amendment right to freedom of the press, it’s time to recruit pro bono lawyers to defend prisoner subscribers’ First Amendment rights. The papers withheld from you are probably piled up in your mail room, and a letter from a lawyer might put them in your hands where they belong.
While you hunt for a lawyer, you can insist on a rejection notice if you’ve missed your paper and don’t know why. Prisons are required to give both the publisher (the Bay View) and the subscriber (that’s you) a notice with a constitutional reason for denying you the paper. It’s been known to happen that merely demanding a notice can get you your paper.
Contact everyone you know outside and ask them to call your warden – and the state director of corrections if the ban is statewide. Prison authorities hate those calls and often do the right thing to make them stop.
If you are a lawyer, read these three protests from prisoners who want and need and deserve their papers and help if you can. If you know a prisoner whose paper has been banned, find a way to help. If you are a prisoner who hasn’t received your paper, do some brainstorming with your comrades. Make a way out of no way – and tell us when you succeed.
I’m entitled to the free press – it’s my right here in America
by Fredeal Truidalle, aka Jamaica Rasta True I
I’m from St. Catherine, Jamaica, West Indies. I’m writing because today is the day I say, “Enough is enough!” I’ve been receiving the San Francisco Bay View newspaper for a year now, and the racism and discrimination toward the only national Black newspaper has me pissed off!
For six months now, because I enjoy the paper so much, I’ve allowed the Menard publication review officer to cut out and remove certain articles because they appear to the racist staff as promoting or encouraging prison strikes.
I’m entitled to the free press. It’s my right here in America.
I’ve monitored other newspapers, like the white newspaper, Revolution, that supports Marxism. They are allowed in without being cut up and articles removed. That Communist paper advocates the overthrow of the U.S. government, but it is NOT CENSORED like the SF Bay View newspaper.
I don’t have the resources to mount a legal complaint. I’m hoping you have a legal aid clinic that would sue these dirt farmers for their racist policy.
I’m entitled to the free press. It’s my right here in America.
Menard is these crackers’ final stronghold! Other IDOC prisons allow your paper in uncensored.
When I was in Pontiac Correctional Center, which is in Central Illinois, four hours from here, my neighbor, Lamount, in Pontiac turned me on to your paper. My family paid the subscription, but this year I’ve yet to receive a complete paper without giving Correctional Officer T. Bradley permission to cut articles out of the paper; and when they do that, they are violating my rights and your publishing rights.
Prison Legal News only this year won a lawsuit against IDOC for keeping its paper out of the prison. They are a white paper.
I’m taking a chance reporting this. I may end up with more segregation. I’ve been in segregation since November of 2013 on an STG (security threat group) ticket.
Now this fight is bigger than me. I need you to investigate and stop this censorship of your paper.
Send our brother some love and light: Fredeal Truidalle, K-79979, Menard Correctional Center, P.O. Box 1000, Menard Il 62259.
Censorship is real and illegal
by Keith “Malik” Washington
I need to speak with you briefly about this censorship business. I think you may already realize that this is a coordinated effort by law enforcement, intelligence agencies and some of these state prison agencies to cool the exercise of political speech they find threatening.
As you see in this clipping I’ve sent you, the Texas prison agency, TDCJ, had no problem whatsoever allowing The Wall Street Journal in! Is this article not detailing prison strike activity?
There are multiple levels of protection for different types of speech; core political speech is guarded the most. I’ve studied this issue and the point we must raise is the “public concern test”; see Connick v. Myers, 461 US 138, 146 (103 S.Ct. 1684). That’s the legal cite, should you know a lawyer.
The articles I and many others write for the Bay View are of public concern. No circuit has held that the Connick public concern limitation applies to prisoners’ speech; however, no circuit has held that it does not. The folks at Prison Legal News Human Rights Defense Center are experts at this type of litigation.
This is a coordinated effort by law enforcement, intelligence agencies and some of these state prison agencies to cool the exercise of political speech they find threatening.
The censorship and repression we are being subjected to is real and very illegal. I have begged for legal aid, yet none has arrived yet. I missed my October and November Bay View. (Both were banned statewide in Texas.)
In the same manner as Trump and the Far Right are getting organized, we, the progressive, liberal, socialist leaning groups and individuals must get organized and confront these oppressors when they attack our free speech.
Nevertheless, we can barely generate the funds to keep the Bay View afloat, so how can I expect us to be able to launch a successful legal challenge? We can only do what we can do. I am thankful for the opportunity the Bay View has afforded me. I will continue to fight.
Send our brother some love and light: Keith “Malik” Washington, 1487958, Eastham Unit, 2665 Prison Rd #1, Lovelady TX 75851.
Censorship is to keep a Black movement from taking root inside this slave system
by Kelevin Stevenson
This is to respectfully notify you that I have received the November issue of the Bay View only after I filed a grievance for unconstitutional censorship of my mail. I have been in an ongoing fight against Georgia’s Department of Corrections and have been placed on Georgia’s Tier Program – Disciplinary Administrative Segregation – since March 25, 2016.
Finally, after having me phased up in their torture program, they’ve given me this month’s issue, but October and September I never received nor any form of notification as to the rejection of said issues. I am currently in litigation against Georgia Department of Corrections for excessive use of force. (Kelevin and Miguel Jackson are the prisoners who were beaten with hammers after Georgia’s one-day work strike in December 2010. – ed.)
It has been six long years of patiently waiting for the Georgia courts to lift its hold on the case. They’ve taken every measure possible to get my complaint dismissed and have failed.
I have received the November issue of the Bay View only after I filed a grievance for unconstitutional censorship of my mail.
I have continued my fight against this system of oppression by doing my part in educating these brothers and opening their eyes to the reality of their situation. I circulate every issue of Bay View you send.
A comrade here on the Tier Program and I have been doing our best to unify and organize these brothers from behind these steel doors. Lately, a neo-fascist white nationalist group calling themselves “Ghostface” have been doing their best to create division and chaos amongst the prison population, and Commissioner Homer Bryson is happy to see any type of prison violence in order to justify this torture program and their request for federally subsidized money to build more prisons.
The real purpose is to enslave more people of color and keep a Black movement from taking root inside this slave system. The shame is that a lot of Negroes are filling their pockets and bank accounts on the backs and lives of Black souls here in the Confederate South.
Send our brother some love and light: Kelevin J. Stevenson, 570391, VSP, P.O. Box 310, Valdosta GA 31603.