September 19 2016 Letterwriting Night

Monday, Sept 19

6:30-8:30pm

SomarBar

1727 Telegraph Ave in Oakland
Details

Please join us for our September monthly letterwriting meetup!! 
Letterwriting is one way we can help our incarcerated LGBTQ+ family remember they are an important part of our community, that they are not forgotten, and that we are still fighting for them!!
You can write a one-time letter, find a new ongoing penpal, and learn about the many ways we, and others, are fighting to tear down prison walls.
Food and drink available for purchase at the bar – please support this amazing venue that supports our communities!
21+ (Under 21 folks, please join us in SF on opposite months, when we meet at Wicked Grounds cafe)

Support Mumia!

Call now to demand freedom & medical care for Mumia!

Cheat Sheet to calling Prison & State Officials

Often when we call in, prison and state officials have taken their lines off the hook. Know that every single call matters, even when they don’t pick up. Here are three numbers that usually work; please focus on calling:

John Wetzel, PA Secretary of Corrections: (717) 728-4109
Governor Tom Wolf: (717) 787-2500
SCI Mahanoy:  (570) 773-2158,  then dial zero

Wetzel’s number will go to voicemail. Wolf’s number will usually be answered. Mahanoy, extension 0, will usually be answered. We’re asking everyone to call these numbers repeatedly for 15 minutes per day.

  • If you get voicemail, leave a message.
  • If answered, say as much as you can before they end the call. Please call that same number and do it again. Our experience is that after calling the same number multiple times, whomever answers the phone will eventually talk to you, if only to try to persuade you to stop calling. This is your opportunity to fully state your concern and demands for freedom and lifesaving medical care.

Mumia’s life is on the line. Your calls, letters, and organizing are what could literally help pull him through this crisis.

Please support Mumia’s access to medical and legal care by helping us raise over $40,000! 

April 2015 Updates

Ah, Happy Sunday!

We just wanted to let everyone know about our next couple of events coming up –
 
tgijp stilettoTGIJP Stiletto Release Party!
Saturday, April 18 5-11pm
Omni Oakland Commons (4799 Shattuck Ave)

TGIJP has published their next issue of the newsletter Stiletto! It is being sent in to 1,800 people, most of whom are TGI, inside of prisons, jails and detention centers along with distributed to our recurring donors and movement allies. For this round, they made Stiletto bigger than ever with articles by members inside and movement allies outside. But now they need to cover the cost of production and distribution, so they’re throwing a huge party. A bunch of Flying Over Walls folks will be there volunteering and supporting, so come on through!

Monday, April 20 6-8:30pm
St James Infirmary (1372 Mission St in SF)
We’ll be hosted by TGIJP for our next workshop! There will be a few similarities from our last workshop, but we’ll be focusing a little less time on exploring all the ins and outs of the PIC in order to have more time to spend envisioning alternatives. We’ll bring some snacks, and invite you to as well!
In this workshop, we will look at what the prison industrial complex is, the ways LGBTQ+ people are policed, and what we mean when we say abolition. Through presentation, activities, and discussion, we will break down “crime” versus “harm,” what we really need to feel safe, and how we can envision alternatives to prisons in order to create a more just world. We strongly welcome folks who have been incarcerated as well as those who wish to work in solidarity (workshop facilitators have not been incarcerated and will make space for people to share personal experiences). We will also draw on materials from Critical Resistance, Black & Pink, and Captive Genders. The workshop is 100% free to the public but we will be asking for donations to give back to Critical Resistance & TGI Justice Project (TGIJP). We hope this workshop will motivate folks to take action against the policing and incarceration of LGBTQ community, become committed to dismantling the prison industrial complex, and possibly join us at our monthly LGBTQ+ Prisoner Letterwriting Nights or weekly TGIJP legal mail nights.
Sunday, April 26 3-5pm
Wicked Grounds Cafe (289 8th St in SF)

Join us for our next Monthly Letter writing Night! This month we want to highlight our solidarity with long distance revolutionary, Mumia Abu-Jamal who is currently in a Medical Crisis.

Showing our support is critical at this time as Mumia doesn’t have access to internet and unless told, he has no idea that people are mobilizing on his behalf. He once credited his ability to survive Death Row was because he knew he was loved. May he never forget that.

This is a chance to learn, connect, support, shatter stereotypes, and break down the walls of the prison industrial complex through direct solidarity. Even if you can’t attend please send Mumia a letter of support:

Mumia Abu-Jamal #AM-8335 mumia
301 Morea Rd
SCI Mahanoy
Frackville, PA 17932

As the SF Bay Area chapter of Black & Pink, our focus is to connect the non-incarcerated LGBTQ+ folks who participate in our events to B&P members in Northern California prisons. We have all the writing and card supplies, provide addresses and info of folks to write to, provide a po box for letters back to you, and offer an orientation to new members at every letter writing night. We’re also here to offer support and answer questions. If you’re not ready for an ongoing commitment, you can still come to send a one-time card, learn more about the process and the PIC, and learn more about local organizing.

A few other things!
We are about to have the last meeting of this round of our study group (thanks so much to everyone who participated and to Lauren & Charlie for organizing), and will be recruiting free word folks soon to join the next round of our study group. We will be matching each free world participant to an incarcerated participant for the duration of the group. We already have recruited our incarcerated participants.  More details soon, and we will start in the late summer/fall!
We will be tabling at SF Pride this year! Be in touch if you want to volunteer with us.
There is a March/vigil today at 3pm in Emeryville for Yuvette Henderson, continuing to demand accountability from EPD and Home Depot.

Tuesday at 12pm there is a rally at SF City Hall as part of a day of resistance – April 14th is A NATIONAL DAY OF ACTION.

April 17 is Palestinian Prisoners Day, and there will be a roundtable discussion. The ReVisions art exhibit and round table discussion draws connections between community struggles and cultures of resistance to challenge state violence, policing and prisons.
April 27 is the Quest for Democracy Day– a day of grassroots legislative visits at the California State Capitol led by formerly incarcerated people, supported by Their Families, Friends, Allies & Comrades.
April 29 – Training on meeting people where they’re at – This training will teach participants how to be conscious of the experiences and conditions incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people face, in order to improve participants’ advocacy.
May 7 – Mariposa & the Saint – Join CCWP for a performance and a conversation about the shocking conditions in California’s women’s prisons and what can be done to change them.
Oct 16-18 – 10 year anniversary celebration and conference for Black & Pink – if your penpals are getting out this year, please put them in touch with us, because they are invited to join this weekend and we will help them get travel stipends to get to Boston!

Release Miguel Armenta!!

not1more

miguelMiguel, a gay activist, artist, and migrant farmworker who has lived in the U.S. for 22 years, is currently living with HIV, Hepatitis C, and has fought cancer currently being monitored by doctors. He is detained in the Northwest Detention Center (NWDC) in Tacoma, WA, where it took about three months before he was able to see outside specialists regarding his various medical conditions despite his frequent requests to see a doctor. Due to his desperation, he was driven to attempt suicide in the first few weeks of his detention. Even though Miguel’s condition is unique and requires special medical care, NWDC has refused to release him on humanitarian grounds, asserting that they are equipped to handle someone with his medical problems. Miguel is asking for our help to pressure the ICE officers who have the authority to grant his release.

Please call the Tacoma ICE office and ask them to grant the immediate humanitarian release of Miguel Angel Armenta Olabarria! (A# 076-343-950). Call ICE Officers Bryan Wilcox at 253-779-6080 and Nathalie Asher at 206-835-0058.
SAMPLE SCRIPT
Miguel Angel Armenta Olabarria! (A# 076-343-950) is currently living with HIV, Hepatitis C, and has fought cancer currently being monitored by doctors. and attempted suicide. It took NWDC about three months to begin giving Miguel the proper medical care he requires, which was only possible by reaching out to specialists outside of NWDC. Miguel is in no way a threat to community safety. Since his return to the United States in 2004, he has dedicated himself to LGBT and HIV issues and who has volunteer countless times to helping less fortunate children. As a member of __[your group/organization]_ I am asking you to immediately grant him humanitarian release while he awaits the decision on his asylum. Thank you.
After you call, please forward this email and please spread the word!!
Can you come to Miguel’s asylum hearing on October 30th at 1 PM in Tacoma? Please RSVP to Alex at axwest@gmail.com.

In solidarity,

Maru, Not1More

P.S. You can watch the lastest videos of Miguel sharing his experience as one of the leaders of the spring 2014 hunger strike in the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, WA, and his birthday wish here http://youtu.be/4E5G3th10zs and here http://youtu.be/ZNl_XarVt4U

Standing Our Ground week – In Support of Marissa Alexander

marissaalexanderFlying Over Walls stands in solidarity with Marissa Alexander and the Standing Our Ground Week, a celebration of exercising our civil and human dignity rights.  Hundreds of national members and organizations collaborating with Free Marissa Now will attend week-long festivities in Jacksonville from Friday, July 25, 2014 until Friday, August 1, 2014.

Please join us in Oakland this Wednesday, as we discuss her case, send postcards, and raise money to send to the organizations offering her direct support.

So many are already in support of her and we cannot possibly speak more eloquently, so we have included statements of solidarity below:

 

SOLIDARITY STATEMENTS

Below is a list of powerful statements sent by individuals and organizations who stand in solidarity with Marissa Alexander and demand her freedom. Send your statement to freemarissanow@gmail.com!

There are times when one woman represents all. Today it is Marissa Alexander who represents those millions of women who every day face continued violence from a brutal husband or partner, who seek desperately for ways to save their children and themselves, who do not want violence in their lives but must do something to defend themselves and their families. For the sake of all of us, the state of Florida must honor her appeal and set Marissa Alexander free.
     – Suzanne Pharr, anti-violence and racial justice community organizer and strategist, political educator, trainer, speaker, and writer


Especially in light of the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the murder of Trayvon Martin, we must mobilize to end the injustice of the criminal legal system and it’s targeting of Black women and men. The lack of protection for those who are victimized and the unchallenged systemic violence in both of these cases is a call to action. The movement to end domestic violence must include a demand for Marissa Alexander’s freedom from prison.
     –  Beth E. Richie, veteran black feminist anti-violence activist and scholar, and author of Arrested Justice: Black Women, Violence, and America’s Prison Nation


Marissa Alexander has suffered a profound injustice, one that makes a mockery of the criminal justice system in Florida. George Zimmerman – who had a history of violence – was allowed to walk free after “standing his ground” and killing an innocent, unarmed black teenager. By contrast, Marissa Alexander, an African American mother from Jacksonville, Florida, was sentenced to 20 years in prison for firing a warning shot in a desperate attempt to halt an attack by her abusive husband. Alexander had no prior arrests, was licensed to carry a gun, and had a restraining order against her husband. And unlike George Zimmerman, she harmed no one. Her husband wasn’t even injured. She simply fired a warning shot to try to protect herself and deter an attack by her husband. Yet despite the restraining order she had obtained and the history of domestic violence, Marissa was denied a self-defense plea under Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law. Her twenty-year sentence shocks the conscience, and speaks volumes about the extent to which racism and sexism have warped Florida’s justice system. The time is overdue to end Jim and Jane Crow justice in Florida. Marissa Alexander should be set free now.
   – Michelle Alexander, author of the book The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness


Instead of protecting women in our communities, particularly from domestic violence, women are subjected to unjust policies that result in more barriers to their safety and well-being, as well as that of their families.  Mandatory arrest policies and deportation programs like Secure Communities do not recognize the intersectional realities that women of color and immigrant women face.  These policies and programs often do more harm than good in terms of protecting survivors of domestic violence, who are simultaneously overpoliced and underprotected.  Women of color are more likely to be arrested or detained themselves for acts of self-defense that are interpreted from a viewpoint of stereotypes and seen as aggression.

Therefore, it is vital that we call attention to the plight of Marissa Alexander as she awaits her new trail. We call on our partners, our allies, and our communities to be vocal and visible in supporting Marissa, and joining the call for the State of Florida to drop the charges against her. We call for the development of transformative community-based responses to violence as alternatives to current criminal systems that continue to harm our communities. We urge you to join us and mobilize towards the vision of a community free from all forms of violence.

– API Chaya, anti-domestic violence organization in Seattle that serves API and South Asian survivors; full statement here


 The treatment of Marissa Alexander is a consequence of the growing crisis of prisons and policing in the US as well as a product of anti-black racism and sexism which drives individuals and institutions to punish black women when they defend themselves from violence. Her case is one of many that shows us how black women and other marginalized people are especially likely to be blamed and criminalized while trying to navigate and survive the conditions of violence in their lives.  We call all members of anti-violence, reproductive justice, and anti-police/prison movements and our allies to also support the call to Free Marissa Alexander!
– INCITE! Women of Color & Trans People of Color Against Violence; full statement here


Women of all races who fight back against abuse find little sympathy from police, courts, or media. The Battered Woman Syndrome defense, which has been successfully used in court to justify why a woman killed or took action against an abuser, is often denied to Black women. The racist and sexist double standard exists at every level of U.S. society. Radical Women demands the immediate release and pardon of Marissa Alexander and an end to race and sex discrimination in the criminal justice system. In addition, Radical Women calls for massive increases in funding for jobs, aid to families, and shelters and services for everyone fleeing domestic violence regardless of their sexual orientation or immigration status.
– Radical Women; full statement here


As much as the system has tried to break her, we know Marissa stands unwavering. Like so many survivors, she is tenacious in spirit. She is made of courage and conviction. We know she has not lost hope and has not given up. We have not and will not give up either. We will remain steadfast in our fight for Marissa until justice is served and she rightfully returns where she belongs… to her home, her children, her family, and her community.
– Miami Workers Center/Sisterhood of Survivors; full statement here

Upcoming events and updates!

A Few Upcoming Community Events and Actions in June!

 

6/11 = tonight!: Passage & Place Letterwriting Night! We won’t be having a B&P letterwriting night this month, so please consider supporting the Passage & Place letterwriting night this Wednesday, June 11, 7-9pm at Alley Cat Books (3036 24th St, SF). They’ll be sending letters to the 100 incarcerated queer/trans folks who contributed to their anthology.

 

By 6/13: Stop Jail Spending! In the battle over whether to allot up to $500 million to building jails, Senator Hancock said “If there are no alternatives to incarceration, there will be no alternative but incarceration!” Call your legislator!

 

6/14: Support From Outside the Walls – Training on Advocating for Incarcerated People. Organized by the NLG, as part of their conference, this training will happen Saturday, June 14 at 3:45pm at the Woman’s Building in SF. It will focus on practical skills development for activists, legal workers, and lawyers to understand the nitty gritty methods and best practices for supporting and advocating for people inside prisons.

 

By 6/17Please submit a statement opposing the proposed CDCr regulations on “obscene” language. We encourage everyone to send a statement individually and/or sign the petition. These regulations are a blatant attempt at censorship across prison walls and are another aspect of the attempted retaliation against the hunger strikes.

 

6/25: Bay Area Anti-Prison Happy Hour! Join CURB members, allies, friends and other anti-prison activists at our upcoming anti-prison happy hour mixer.  Meet, share stories from these past exciting months, hang out and affirm our ongoing fight to end the caging of our communities! Wednesday, June 25th from 6-8pm @ SomaR Bar (1727 Telegraph Ave, Oakland). RSVP here.

 

6/27: Bustin’ Out 2014! Party Against the Prison Industrial Complex!  Join the annual Trans March after party and TGI Justice Project fundraiser at El Rio! Get there early, cause the line gets long!

 

Now until 6/28: Stop the Prison Party! If you haven’t heard yet, a darker cloud than usual will hang over Pride this year. Several promoters are banding together to throw a prison-themed party. This party disrespects the real suffering of incarcerated people, especially since our LGBTQ+ communities have historically been (and continue to be) the targets of police and state violence, are disproportionately criminalized and incarcerated and face higher percentages of violence and rape once in prison. The decision feels especially insensitive given that three of the SF Pride grand marshals, Chelsea Manning, Jewlyes Gutierres, and Miss Major are trans women who have been directly affected by the Prison Industrial Complex. See local press coverage or our recent blog to read more about it. Then, please sign this petition in opposition and sign onto our ThunderClap campaign to spread the word.

Not Proud of Pride

not proud

To: Kink.com, SF Armory, Masterbeat, SF Pride, and others,

We are writing out of concern after finding out about the Prison of Love party (and related after party) that will be happening in conjunction with Pride at the Armory this year. We are disturbed by the use of the prison theme and this party’s objectification of prison culture.

Flying Over Walls shares the concerns of Miss Major, TGI Justice Project, Janet Mock, El/La Para TransLatinas, Community United Against Violence, Trans March, and many others  about the Kink’s “Prison of Love” party (and related after party) that will be happening in conjunction with Pride at the Armory this year. We are disturbed by the use of the prison theme and this party’s objectification of prison culture.

This party disrespects the real suffering of incarcerated people, especially since our LGBT communities have historically been (and continue to be) the targets of police and state violence, are disproportionately criminalized and incarcerated and face higher percentages of violence and rape once in prison.

Our trans & queer community has a long history of being targets of police harassment and state-based violence, but we also have a long history of resistance. When our trans and queer elders fought back at Compton’s Cafeteria (1966) and at Stonewall Inn (1969) they gave birth to a new wave of liberation struggles in this country. We are PROUD of our queer  & trans history of resistance against law enforcement, jails, detention centers and prisons. We have PRIDE in our continued resilience and unwavering dedication to ending violence in our communities. That’s why we feel Kink’s choice of “Prison of Love” as their official PRIDE party theme and promotions are disrespectful and insulting.

Their decision feels especially insensitive given that three of the SF Pride grand marshals, Chelsea Manning, Jewlyes Gutierres, and Miss Major are trans women who have been directly affected by the Prison Industrial Complex. Miss Major has spent her entire life fighting against the prison industry and against the ways our queer and trans communities are targeted.  To be clear, Flying Over Walls isn’t interested in sexual censorship or policing people’s desires, we just think Another Pride Party is Possible, one that gets us closer to the liberation our elders so passionately started and that we continue to fight for today.

Please respect her and all of us by demanding that the party organizers change the theme.

Thank you,
Flying Over Walls – SF Bay Area B&P

 

To anyone opposed to this party, please sign this petition.

 

 

May Updates & Events

Hello & Happy May!

Upcoming Events & Updates (including our first workshop – at the very end!): 

Our study group met on May 8 – focusing on intersections of religion, queerness and criminalization. This group is currently closed to new members, but will re-open for a new round in the fall. Check out the reading list & email us to hear about the next round.

We are supporting a local queer arts and prisoner solidarity book project, PASSAGE & PLACE, that will be including voices of B&P and TGIJP members on the inside. Check out their indiegogo! There are 60 hours left to pledge and secure a copy for you and someone on the inside.

This Wednesday, May 14 from 5-7pm: LGBTQ Prisoner Solidarity Project: Letterwriting, Dinner and Discussion with the Pacific School of Religion (1798 Scenic Ave, Berkeley, CA). This evening will include a penpal orientation, letterwriting, and an overview of the work of Black and Pink, an open family of LGBTQ prisoners and “free world” allies who support each other. There will also be information about current prison abolition campaigns and discussion about theological theory & practices related to prison abolition.

We are also working on collectively writing two pieces to submit to local and LGBTQ news media – one drawing attention to the Global Week of Action Against Incarcerating Youth on May 19-25 (including Tuesday, May 20 – National Day Against the Criminalization of Queer Youth and Youth with Disabilities) as well as a piece looking at the newly proposed CDCr regulations to ban “obscene material,” which no doubt will include leftist media and our queer mail/letters. We are encouraging everyone in our community to write in to the CDCr by June 17 to oppose these proposed regulations. Let us know if you want to help with these drafts.

We are also endorsing the upcoming Formerly Incarcerated People’s Quest for Democracy Lobby Day on May 19th in Sacramento, CA. This will be an event focused on supporting “formerly-incarcerated people, our family members, and other community leaders to show our support for pending legislation affecting the quality of life of people directly impacted by incarceration, but to also assert ourselves as leaders, experts, and contributing members of our communities in a space where we are normally considered statistics, storytellers, and seat fillers.” Get involved!

A few of us are also usually there every Tuesday evening from 4:30-8pm at the new TGIJP office (1372 Mission St. SF, CA): Legal support clinics at TGIJP to provide information and self-advocacy resources for incarcerated queer and trans folks. Training & dinner provided each week. RSVP to Janetta@tgijp.org if it’s your first time.

And… Our first workshop!!

Thursday, May 29 from 7:30-9:30pm: Intro Workshop on the Prison Industrial Complex & Queer Resistance at Wicked Grounds Cafe (289 8th St, SF, CA). Our workshop will explore the underlying framework of the prison industrial complex. Participants will develop a historical analysis of the policing and incarceration of LGBTQ people while exploring alternatives to incarceration. RSVP here.

 

Hope to see you somewhere!