Palo Alto — The Whoover institute reported today that teachers’ unions, assisted by cowardly and misled school administrations, had caused all of the worldwide economic disruption in the past two years, that has been mistakenly attributed to COVID-19.
The study looked at issues such as famine, water shortages, and supply chain disruptions, and concluded that the root cause was not the virus but the selfish actions of K-12 teachers in refusing to work with large groups of children in poorly ventilated and maintained classrooms, during a pandemic.
The study found that school closures meant that parents often could not go to work. The study explained that one solution to the absenteeism problem created by adult workers getting sick, was prohibited by misguided child labor laws, the subject of their previous report. “Absent legal prohibitions, children could have accompanied their parents to meat packing plants and amazon warehouses,” eliminating the problem of childcare and ensuring a robust supply of low-paid essential workers.
Gay California legislator Scott Whiner, who is considered a front-runner for senator, governor and president (possibly to hold all three offices simultaneously), touted the report in his support of the recall of three San Francisco school board members.
“If it weren’t for the selfish school unions, and the cowardly school board, schools would not have closed for almost a year. They had to weigh the cost-benefit, and the teachers had their thumbs on the scale.”
SF Supervisor Ralph Mendacious joined Whiner in supporting the recall. “As you know, during the Trump administration, unions had entirely too much influence, particularly after teacher victories in the midwest. Fortunately, we now have the Biden administration,” Mendacious said.
Bo Brown, a self-proclaimed “anti-authoritarian lesbian feminist anarcho-communist urban guerrilla” died in October, 10 days after her 74th birthday. She died at home from complications of dementia.
Born in Klamath Falls OR, Bo left for the freedom of Seattle after graduating from high school. She did various odd jobs to support herself, spent a year in prison in 1971 and became a prison activist for the rest of her life. After she got out of prison, Bo attended Community College in Seattle and joined her first (of many) prison activist groups, Women Out Now. Her dedication to activism on behalf of prisoners led to her involvement in the George Jackson Brigade (GJB). The GJB carried out many militant actions in the early 1970s as part of their opposition to capitalism, racism and imperialism. In 1977 Bo was arrested in Seattle for robbing a bank, the money to be used for the continued actions of the GJB. Realizing she was being followed, Bo purposely led the police away from the safe house where other members of the GJB were staying.
Convicted in federal court in Portland and sentenced to 20 years, Bo was sent to Davis Hall, the Maximum Security Unit (MSU) at Alderson prison in WV. Davis was the first high security special control and isolation unit for political women. While there, Bo met “dangerous” women like Black revolutionary Assata Shakur and Lolita LeBron and other Puerto Rican Independistas. Together they tried to publicize the unfair conditions of the MSU and finally with pressure from community groups, lawyers and other inmate activists, the MSU was closed, though Alderson continued to be a high security prison for women. Bo spent the next 7 years being shuttled to different prisons and jails including in Chicago (where she taught weight lifting), Reno NV and ultimately Pleasanton CA.
Because of the support of the Lesbian community in the Bay Area, including advocacy with prison authorities, Bo was guaranteed a job at the Women’s Press and a place to live. She was paroled to San Francisco in 1985. Once out of prison, Bo’s activism exploded (so to speak).
It’s hard to write a person’s obituary, especially when you’ve known someone for a long time. Most of us in LAGAI knew Bo well, and like most relationships they were complicated. Some of us knew her in Seattle before and during the years she was in the GJB. Some of us were in a lesbian collective that luckily didn’t end up being one of the lesbian houses raided by police in trying to chase down the GJB. Some of us went to her trial in Portland and several of us visited her in various prisons like Reno and California. And some of us only met Bo after she was out of prison. Some of us got their first motorcycle rides from her. Many of us were in groups with her – Revolting Lesbians and Out of Control: Lesbian Committee to Support Women Political Prisoners, or participated in specific campaigns such as to free the Native American prisoners Norma Jean Croy and Eddie Hatcher. Bo was a strong advocate for dealing with class in the lesbian community and movement – and was largely responsible for Revolting Lesbians’ “Let Them Eat Pussy” manifesto.
Bo’s steadfast butch presence, fierce political analysis, her open heart and her great laugh lit up many lesbian events for decades. She spoke loudly, clearly and honestly in public and private. If she liked you, you knew it, and if she was pissed off at you, you definitely knew that too. But she never closed the doors on a friendship. She stayed tight with her exes, and always had a hug for people she’d met once or hadn’t seen in a decade. She became an icon, mentor and friend to many younger dykes and queer people, introducing them to a version of feminism and queer liberation they didn’t know existed.
The 2017 documentary film “the Gentleman Bank Robber: The Story of Butch Lesbian Freedom Fighter rita bo brown” tells her story in her own words. Its available online a worth a watch: https://vimeo.com/229406880.
Bo is survived by her partner, Etang, who supported Bo through her prolonged final illness. She is also survived by fellow Brigade veterans Janine Bertram, Mark Cook, and Ed Mead, and many, many friends and collaborators.
We love you and we miss you Bo – Blue, Chaya, Deeg, Deni, Julie, Kate, Lisa, Tory
Acronyms are great, I use them every day, however they can be confusing and exclusionary—even the acronyms designed to be inclusive.
Signs abound on homemade window signs in my neighborhood that say “BLM”—showing support for Black Lives Matter—this is great but when they first appeared it took me a minute to translate. In my day-to-day job I work on issues on public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management which we always just call “BLM” too. That is a simple example and was readily figured out, but what about others that “intend” to be inclusive? Take STEM – science, technology, engineering and math—the intent of the acronym is to say these are important fields of study that lead to good jobs and for far too long have been the exclusive domain of white men AND we should do something about that by funding and supporting women, people of color, LGBTQII to study these fields at university level and compete for jobs. Great, but the STEM acronym could make it seem like somehow if women and people of color just study more in these areas things will change. It hides the ugly truth of how women and people of color have been discouraged from pursuing these fields in the past and are still discriminated against on a daily basis in hiring, retention, publishing, at conferences etc. and this discrimination is active not passive. Women, people of color and LGBTQII are still held to a different standard and belittled if they are not at the very top of their field (“too hard for you, huh?”), are sexually harassed and insulted in the classroom and at conferences. (One odd and unexpected benefit of zoom conferences is that they are a safer space for many people than in-person conferences which force close contact and have been pressure cookers of abusive behavior, micro and macro aggressions written off as “what happens in Vegas…” just boys being boys.)
TEK, traditional ecological knowledge, is a term growing in use for a long-ignored truth—that indigenous people living in close connection with the earth know things that “western science” doesn’t about nature and how it “works”. It is awesome that this knowledge is finally being recognized in “mainstream” culture and the scientific community. There is a lot of information on the web about this from many scientists and agencies. To hear people in their own words, discuss TEK, I recommend this series of short pieces on KCET now in its third season on line: https://www.kcet.org/shows/tending-nature and the earlier film and follow up pieces Tending the Wild: https://www.kcet.org/shows/tending-the-wild/episodes/tending-the-wild
However, like any acronym, just saying TEK can lead to confusion. I recently had a discussion at work where a white man was talking about restoration issues and mentioned “TEK” which he said the way we usually say “tech”, not T E K as I have heard most native/indigenous presenters say it. And then when I asked what he meant, he started “mansplaining” — this interaction was both awkward and infuriating! TEK – this shorthand acronym– is about mainstream society finally acknowledging the depth of knowledge and information native and indigenous people hold, but like any acronym it risks becoming just another “cool idea” for those with privilege and power to throw around as a “woke” credential.
COP26—Congress of the Parties 26—is an acronym that hides more than it reveals. This was the most recent “UN climate change conference” in Glasgow—the meetings have been all over the world these last 26 years with the “parties” to the convention (government representatives) on the inside and the populace advocating for action increasingly on the outside. While the conferences get bigger and more prestigious every year, the fossil fuel industry and big money interests have ensured that little or no progress is being made. Scientists and activists have been calling for a phase out of fossil fuel use and an end to subsidies for at least the last 10 years but the outcome document, the Glasgow Climate Pact, still pushes off key deadlines for nearly a decade and is unenforceable. The text emphasizes the need to mobilize climate finance “from all sources to reach the level needed to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement, including significantly increasing support for developing country Parties, beyond $100 billion per year” but those are just words, the wealthy counties that emitted most of the greenhouse gases that are the cause of climate change, including the US, still refuse to pay a fair share of a clean-energy transition for less-developed counties. There are “pledges” to halt deforestation and methane emissions by 2030—two destructive activities that should have ended decades ago and even if these “pledges” are fulfilled the destruction would keep going for nearly another decade. It’s not just me, even the UN General Secretary says the agreement is not enough:
“It is an important step but is not enough,” said United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres in his wrap up message to the conference. “Our fragile planet is hanging by a thread. We are still knocking on the door of climate catastrophe. It is time to go into emergency mode — or our chance of reaching net-zero will itself be zero.”
Whatever the acronym, the agreements coming out of COP26 are as hollow as a ping-pong ball which has just been bounced down the road to COP27, set to take place in Egypt in 2022.
To Japanese Americans who oppose using empty hotels as permanent housing for homeless people: Don’t rewrite our history to increase profits for the real estate industry.
By Toshio Meronek, housing activist and journalist, and Miya Sommers, Coordinator with Nikkei Resisters
On October 19, real estate developers and some Japantown residents slid a knife into plans for permanent, supportive housing for homeless people. Instead of converting the failed 131-room tourist Buchanan Hotel into long-term housing for people who need it, the city is backing off thanks to a misinformation campaign spread in part by other Japanese Americans.
According to a statement that has been shared by many Japantown nonprofits, San Francisco’s Japantown is under attack by low-income San Franciscans. In a petition also promoted in the LA-based Japanese American paper Rafu Shimpo, they claim that potentially creating permanent housing for elders and disabled people who are homeless would lead to “irreparable harm on the SF Japantown neighborhood.” Despite its claims, the anti-homeless campaign will not preserve Japanese American culture in the city. And if the campaign is successful, more elders and people with disabilities on the street will be on the streets of Japantown.
We are Japanese Americans who are longtime residents of indigenous Ohlone-Lisjan and Ramaytush land (a.k.a. the Bay Area). We need other Japanese Americans and allies to understand the dangerous, anti-homeless misinformation campaign began in August that will increase suffering for the majority of San Franciscans. Ultimately, it’s a campaign that will make the rich richer, as it cynically misuses the recent attention around racist, anti-Asian violence, and also rewrites the history of racist Redevelopment policies of the 1960s, policies that not only threatened to level Japantown to the ground, but also bleached the Fillmore of many Black residents, and all but demolished the area called Manilatown, where Filipinx people were evicted to make way for today’s Financial District and its big banks.
If it accomplishes its goal, the anti-homeless campaign will benefit landlords and real estate developers most of all. If leaders in Japantown are truly concerned about the loss of Japanese American culture or small businesses, they are choosing the wrong target, and erasing the fact that there are Japanese American and/or hafu/hapa (half-Japanese) homeless people living here right now.
Thousands of luxury condo units sit empty, while construction continues on new condos that will be affordable to almost no one. Mayor London Breed continues to sweep homeless encampments, moving people with nowhere to go around the city, causing havoc and tragedy, rather than solving the problem of wealth-hoarding in a city that is also home to more billionaires per capita than any other. Breed’s anti-homeless policies make it impossible for people to gain stability, as tents and other possessions are taken away during a pandemic with no end in sight.
Not all Japanese American believe that poor people are the problem. Some of us actually understand that the real estate industry is the true predator and villain in this story. However, board members and some staff of Japantown nonprofits don’t agree, and they’re making it seem like there is only one voice in Japantown. The statements they’ve made co-opt the very real concern of anti-Asian violence, and the haunted histories of Japanese American World War II incarceration and Redevelopment, egregiously using these issue to stop supportive, permanent homeless housing in the neighborhood. They also erase Japanese Americans who are currently or formerly homeless–like Japanese American World War II incarceration survivors, who often left the camps after the war with nowhere to go, having been evicted from their homes by landlords and local sheriffs departments at the onset of internment. As descendants of incarceration survivors, we refuse to see our community’s trauma used to harm other communities.
Another actual threat to the community are the investors in Beverly Hills who own the Japan Center mall. In 2006, two Southern California-based companies purchased much of the mall. They signed a 15-year agreement, brokered by the city, stating that they would not attempt to convert the space into condos during that time. However, that agreement expires this year and has not yet been renewed. Even before COVID-19, Japan Center’s owners were slowly bleeding the place empty. The owners are not interested in preserving community: Langdon Street Capital “seeks to acquire, manage, develop and finance value-add urban infill real estate through syndication of equity and joint venture partnerships,” and its partner 3D Investments “prides itself on providing attractive investment options for investors from all over the globe.” Langdon and 3D have refused to negotiate rents with small businesses, resulting in the nearly-dead mall that Japan Center is today. In 2007, Japan Center owners began working with architects to draw up plans for condos to replace the mall.
Because of the mall owner’s unwillingness to provide more than six months rent forgiveness for small businesses, we saw a number of these community shops shut down. So who is truly a threat to the culture of Japantown?
During the early days of the pandemic, the city only partially followed guidance from medical pros who advised that the spread of the virus and its stronger variants. The city set up contracts with companies like Urban Alchemy to turn empty parking lots into campsites, and hotels into temporary housing, promising to offer permanent housing to all. The resources spent on these public-private partnerships has resulted in placing few houseless people in permanent homes. Our community cannot rely on corporations like Urban Alchemy or the owners of Japan Center, either.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, San Francisco’s rents have stayed unaffordable–never dipping below $3,000. And since July, rents have actually gone up, despite a boom in building over the past decade. Corporate landlords are just getting bigger since the pandemic began, buying up buildings as quickly as they can while corporate media outlets run stories that push the false message that “mom-and-pop” landlords are victims of the pandemic. Sheriffs continue to evict San Franciscans in spite of the “eviction moratorium” that is set to end November 30.
The state has budgeted $300 million to purchase buildings for permanent housing for people experiencing homelessness, and a few Japanese Americans are out here trying to send back the cash. The SF Homelessness and Supportive Housing department identified a few hotels such as Japantown’s Buchanan Hotel as solutions. The Buchanan was a failing tourist hotel owned by a British corporation, the InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), and previously the Phoenix, Arizona-based Best Western Hotels & Resorts. At the beginning of the pandemic, IHG leased the building to the city as a shelter-in-place (SIP) hotel for homeless people to curb COVID-19’s spread. IHG has no plans to reopen the Buchanan, and it could easily renovated into a space that would mean hundreds of supportive housing units, and living-wage jobs for people who work there. We desperately need the rooms, because the city has already started to evict people from SIP hotels, acting like the pandemic is over. We also can’t depend on tourism returning and providing a source of living wages for people here, and until our unhoused neighbors have access to a permanent roof to sleep under, we aren’t interested in recreating the “Disneyfied” Japantowns designed by mid-1900s urban planners to appeal to tourists.
Corporate real estate investors like 3D and Langdon are buying up available housing units and leaving them empty, while some of these same landlords are getting ready to mass-evict tenants. If anti-homeless campaign leaders are interested in stopping violence, helping small businesses, and preserving local Japanese American culture, then demand that the city help homeless and low-income San Franciscans, Japanese American or not, by purchasing as many empty buildings as possible to give people somewhere to stabilize their lives. For example, the owners of the Majestic Hotel, a couple of blocks east of the Buchanan, are also ready to sell to the city. Before Redevelopment, the block where The Buchanan Hotel now stands was residential housing. Back then, the city used “eminent domain” policies to take Japanese American (and Black and Filipinx) homes. The city could also use eminent domain, only this time, use it to take back land from rich tax-evaders and use it to shelter the city’s most vulnerable residents.
By saying that permanent supportive housing will destroy the community rewrites the history of Japanese American activism and tenant organizing, twisting it to push a pro-real estate industry message. In the 1960s, the SF Redevelopment Agency (SFRA) was run by a notoriously cruel leader, Justin Herman, who called the land “too valuable to permit poor people to park on it,” and backed by groups like SPUR, he urged politicians to move the city’s population “closer to standard white Anglo-Saxon Protestant characteristics.” They succeeded in displacing hundreds of Japanese Americans, not to mention destroying Black community in the nearby Fillmore District, and almost completely leveling the Filipinx neighborhood once known as Manilatown. The City promised anyone displaced would be promised financial help to relocate, but failed to live up to that promise. It took grassroots tenant groups like the Committee Against Nihonmachi Evictions (CANE) to save Japantown from total demolition by the SFRA and a Japan-based investment company, Kintetsu Enterprises. CANE stepped in where the city failed, managing to rehouse some of the Japanese American residents who were made homeless through the city’s racist policies.
In the 1980s, Japanese Americans became the only ethnic group to receive significant universal financial reparations from the US government, after a 30-year campaign resulted in $20,000 in reparations for incarcerees. Those who say they want to preserve Japantown’s culture need to start with the people first, and we could learn a lot from the struggles of CANE did in the 1970s, movements like Save Our Seniors in LA, and the J-Town Action and Solidarity Network. (LA, San Francisco, Seattle organizers repped West Coast Japantowns on a September panel on displacement, and released its own statement demanding “the immediate commandeering of unoccupied hotel units and their conversion into free housing for all who lack housing.”) There’s also the work of indigenous Lisjan-Ohlone people who are currently working on projects like the Sogorea Te’ Land Trust, to rematriate some of the Bay Area that was taken from native tribes that were killed and enslaved by European settlers during their brutal colonization of the West Coast.
Stable housing is a basic need, and permanent housing could be a form of reparations for people who are currently unhoused, and who have suffered, and continue to suffer because San Francisco’s government, and the real estate industry that funds local political campaigns, is very intentionally causing more suffering. We hope that other Japanese Americans will join us and already existing movements to end the silence around this. Speak out with us and our homeless friends, family, and neighbors.
There is an on-going life-threatening clean water crisis in the Stateville Correctional Facility in Joliet IL. On Dec. 7th, Chicago-based Community Renewal Society member congregations joined with 17 community organizations to protest and to deliver 62,250 bottles of safe and clean water. Access to safe and clean water is a human right, in prison and out. It is a matter of economic and racial justice. At a press conference before the demonstration, speakers demanded that the governor of Illinois resolve this crisis immediately, saying that human life depends on it. And it seems like the least the state could do – provide clean water.
New Amendment Needed
The Abolition Amendment has been introduced in the Senate and the House. Co-sponsored by Senator Edward Markey MA, Senator Jeff Merkley OR and Congresswoman Nikema Williams GA, it is currently pending in the Senate Judiciary Committee. The resolution would amend the u.s. constitution by adding a new Article prohibiting the use of slavery and involuntary servitude as punishment for a crime. It would end the damaging slavery loophole that still persists in the U.S. Constitution. The 13th Amendment, passed in 1865, formally ended slavery but included a clause allowing it as punishment for convicted persons. The Abolition Amendment would include language that nobody should be stripped of their basic humanity and forced to toil for someone else’s profit for any reason. The amendment would be a step towards abolishing prisons altogether but it would have to be ratified by ¾ of the 50 states. ABOLISH PRISONS NOW
Still Standing Tall
Hi Family. I’m an individual who made plenty of mistakes, even tried to do right but still landed back in prison. But now I am close to getting out if I get parole this year, I will be good, if not I max out next year. I am writing this story to say I lost my mother this year in January. I blame myself because standing up for myself and protecting myself, I missed the chance to see mother’s service and burial. I did get to talk to my mother on the phone and I knew she wasn’t going to live much longer because she needed a lung transplant and didn’t have the money to be put at the top of the list. But … God took her home to stop her pain and even though my mother passed away, she got to see me graduate high school and go on living my life. Even though I made mistakes, I am still standing tall living the life as the woman I want to be.
I, Ms Juicy queen bee, in Pennsylvania send a shout out to my friends and family across the states that are in prison trying to make it and a special shout out to my friend and other half, Mr. E Stuges and kisses. William Coward #ML5077 SCI Houtzdale PO Box 33028, St Petersburg FL 33733 [address for letters to PA prisoners]
Hey there to all of my LGBT family. I just received my first UltraViolet issue and I want to say that I feel your all’s pain. I am in prison for 2 violent murders. I have 2 life withouts and will never get out of prison. I am transgender and when I first came to prison in 2011 all gay people were targeted. We were looked at as sicko’s, weak and weird. Even the staff looked down on us. So instead of me being who I am, I acted like someone who I wasn’t. I was mean toward everyone, always fighting and trying to be aggressive all the time no matter the situation. I figured that as long as I held that reputation then I wouldn’t have to worry about getting picked on. I stayed like that for 10 years, up until the beginning of 2021. I realized that I didn’t truly love myself acting and doing the things that I was doing, so I eventually started carrying myself who I really am. Even though I get treated bad and get picked on like I do, I realize I can say that I love myself and no one can ever take that away from me. So I want to say that don’t let no one ever make you do things or act a way you normally wouldn’t act. Always love yourself, that’s the only thing that matters and don’t let no one take that away from you. I’m always open to meet and write new people so let’s be friends … Marion Parker #139284, EKCC, 200 Road to Justice, West Liberty KY 41472
Pen Pal Resources
BLACK AND PINK, 6223 Maple Street, #4428, Omaha NE 68104
Black and Pink is an open family of LGBT prisoners and free world allies. We provide a free monthly newsletter of prisoner written material, host an online listing of pen pals, coordinate an art program, provide direct advocacy when possible, and offer religious and erotic materials upon request. Donations of stamps are always welcomed but not required.
SYLVIA RIVERA LAW PROJCT, 147 W. 24th St., 5th Floor, New York, NY 10011
Provides free civil legal services and a pen pal program to incarcerated people in New York who are transgender,intersex, or gender nonconforming. We are a collectively-run organization that seeks to make systemic change and
increase the political power of our communities.
PRISONER CORRESPONDENCE PROJECT, QPIRG Concordia c/o Concordia University, 1455 de Maisonneuve Ouest, Montreal QC H3G 1M8 CANADA or email@example.com
Pen pal service for prisoners in u.s. and canada. (postage from u.s. to canada is $1.20)
Shorts from Inside
Thank you for being the first newsletter to publish my short script. I opened up your newsletter on 11/2/2021 and turned to the Shorts from Inside and seen my own wording and started crying. It took me around 5 ½ minutes to gather myself. Until next time. BGR, San Luis Obispo CA
I just received your latest Fall 2021 issue and wanted to thank you all so much for keeping tabs on me and updating my address. You guys (and gals) are awesome. Your publication has been a bright spot during my time down and I always look forward to each and every issue. With love and solidarity, DE, Devens MA
“If you think you’re too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.” MW, Florida City FL
I love your UltraViolet newspaper and find comfort in the fact that I’m not alone. I’m incarcerated. I’m female with a desire to finally live freely with in the prison as a male. I’m ready to break free of this shell of a woman and emerge proudly as the man I am meant to be. The Florida women’s prison system finally has a Transgender Program. The program allows us to receive male hygiene products, wear men’s clothing and has Hormone Therapy. I’ve submitted several requests of my desires to enroll into this program. I’m terrified of being denied. Do you have knowledge of any Florida Transgender Advocacy Groups? You are greatly appreciated for all you are to the LGBTQI community and are the voice for us incarcerated people. Trans4Life!! Amanda Blair #E44286. Lowell CI, 11120 NW Gainesville Rd. Ocala FL 34482
Greetings from Ohio to all the amazingly strong and resilent beautiful people reading these words. I am a transwoman looking to build and network with other trans people incarcerated across the states who may need some help/support as they continue to fight for a voice. I am going on my 5th month on H.R.T. after over a decade worth of blood, sweat, tears, lawsuits and all the ugliness that we know so well. I had strong people encouraging me and still do as I continue. I would love to pay it forward. Inmate-to-inmate is allowed in Ohio prisons. Victoria Drain #726-985, Ohio S.P. 878 Coitsville-Hubbard Rd. Youngstown OH 44505
I want to thank all who wrote me after my short, “Cherish Cupid no matter where it strikes” (Fall 2021). I have a problem with my mailroom as they are unauthorizing all my letters for inmate-to-inmate correspondence. This has been an issue I’m dealing with – luckily I was able to get a few in. If you wrote me and did not receive a response or have not written but want to, please write to the new address and I will write back guaranteed. Wayne Walker, 1861 Jeane Ave. Pahrump NV 89048
I enjoy getting and reading your UltraViolet newspaper. I just got volume XXXIII, #2 and it is very interesting to read. I always read it word for word , I love reading those articles. RLA, Perry FL
I’m getting released!! Cancel this address and I’ll write with the new one. JT, Mt Olive WV [ed. Note – CONGRATULATIONS]
I want you to know you’ve been really keeping my eyes open so I can be understanding of my daughter once I am released next year. LE, Canon City CO
Today I received the Fall 2021 issue of UltraViolet and recently got the Spring 2021 and Summer 2021 issues to catch me up to date for the ones I missed during my long (frustrating) transfer process to this prison. There is a surprisingly large LGBTQ community in here at FCI Ashland KY and I have shared those three issues with others in my unit. I’m helping spread the word … your words. I’ll keep all issues to share with new arrivals in our community here. Keep a song of joy inside your heart. DP, Ashland KY
I love UltraViolet! The articles are well written and speak the truth. Please include some information about organizations and groups that offer LGBT prisoner resources. AC, Bushnell FL
I’m transmale in prison in Florida. My facility just started recognizing Gender Dysphoria and they are actually giving me testosterone as hormone therapy. KT, Ocala FL
Hi. It’s me again, I hope all of you are well and safe from COVID. As you can see, I’ve been transferred, maybe the mailroom will be more lenient than Union [C.I. Raiford FL] was. It has gotten a little better here in Fl. I’m now close to Tallahassee, nice time to cuddle-up but I can’t at the moment but in time, I will. Love ya!! Rosie, Live Oak FL
A friend let me read some of your newspaper. I just love the articles on tranz-injustice. I am on a life sentence. I’ve been down 25 years, since 196. On the streets, I was forced to play the role of only a guy without a girl. I’m from Ogden UT where there were only 2 gay bars. It’s sad that I had to come to prison for a few years just to have the courage to come out. In 2005 I changed my name to Melissa. Not legally (I wish). This shows how oppressed we have been for so so long. This needs to change. I’m grateful for people like you who give a damn about rights for everyone. Respectfully, MM, Draper UT
I am a proud Gay black man incarcerated in the Michigan Department of Corrections and I’m very interested in your group. Thank you for all of your hard work and dedication to the men in prison like us! JJ, St Louis MI
I am so humbly and thankfully writing to you all for the first of many times. I am a transgender at Coastal S.P. who goes by the name of Queen Zora Siege. I am currently serving a 13 year sentence. While being here I have been sexually and physically assaulted but I am still standing and surviving. People need to know and understand that things are still pretty hard for some of us in prison. And not everyone is okay with trading relationships and sex for protection and sustenance. Al though we are now able to partake in hormone replacement therapy and are being allowed to express ourselves in some gender-affirming ways, things are not always rainbows and butterflies. Yes we are in prison but we are still human beings deserving of some form of dignity if we are going to one day be productive citizens. We need to continue to fight for our right to safety and safe-housing. I love all of you and I am so thankful that I was able to come across a newsletter of y’alls! It has really brightened this dark journey through prison. Queen Zora Siege, Garden City GA
I recently read a copy of your newsletter that someone here had. Your front page article about abortion, Texas and Witchelm was great news and made me very happy! The story of the Drop from the sky did not make the news here. I have been hoping that someone would do something to help the women to make decisions for themselves! It is their right. MTH, Coleman FL
Hello LAGAI, I want you to know that you guys are my heroes. I really enjoyed reading your newsletter and I thank God for your UltraViolet rays that helped light my path today. You empowered me to keep Pushing on. I am in Ad-Seg in SECC and it’s awful. It’s the worse conditions of confinement on Earth.
Who Am I?
A very wise woman once told that the best gift you can give yourself is the gift os knowing who you are!! I am a TRANSwoman (Taking Risks and Never Stopping). I am stronger, wiser and much better than before because I have that gift. To all my TRANS bros and sis’ do you know who you are? I pray that you do and if you are still searching for your identity, I pray that you find it. I recently embraced my transformation and every day since has seemed like a holiday. Bro and sis, I stand in solidarity with you all, those of us behind barz and those of you in the FREE World..
I have a question for you all. Do you believe that a 12 year old is capable of knowing what gender he/she chooses to be? Recently rapper “Lil Boosie” blasted Dewayne Wade because D-Wade is allowing his son/daughter to get gender re-assignment surgery. Do you agree? I do not. I had the gift of knowing who I was at 9 years old. I applaud D-Wade; he is an All-Star on and off the court. He understands that his child’s life will not be one without trouble, but he also understands trouble don’t last always.
Pursue your transformation diligently, train your mind not to dwell on your fearful thoughts. You are not alone, the Queen Mother Summer Breeze is with you. Love you all. Laderic McDonald #1290182, SECC, 300 East Pedro Simmons Dr. Charleston MO 603834
I Need Advocacy
Please help me. My name is Matthew Lee Espinoza. I am Transgender but because I have been tormented since 3/2020, even if I’m miserable I’m going back to living my life as a man.
In March of 2020, I was sexually harassed by a Correctional Officer. After the second time I had to reject his sexual advances, he began to maliciously harass me. After a year I tried to file a P.R.E.A. because he would not leave me alone! That’s all I’ve ever wanted. I tried to file with my Psych Clinician and a mean I.S.U. officer. Nothing got filed. But everything got 10x worse for me. All I want is to do my time because I did put myself here and it was wrong for me to be getting ‘stabby’ with anyone!!! But I don’t deserve all this bullshit. Please help me with some advocacy. Matthew Lee Espinoza #BE6973, Mule Creek S.P./B-9-222, PO Box 409040, Ione CA 95640
Horrifying True Story
Sorry I have been absent from the scene for a moment. I have an awful true story to share with our family again. On March 3rd, a Sgt. slammed me on the ground because I had my hair pinned up in a very cute hairstyle known as pigtails while sporting a mini skirt, then SEVERAL other male officers came rushing in and one of them put shackles on my legs. So I’m being held to the ground in Handcuffs and shackles by multiple violent and derogatory staff members. Another officer, a Lt. sprayed me in the face at point blank range with pepper spray. Why???!! What possible threat am I, once being held by multiple male officers?? I’m only a girl of 150 pounds. Anyways, then these discriminatory officers picked me up and carried me into my cell and cut all of my clothes off except my panties. And then carried me out in the hallway in front of all the male offenders! Let me tell you something, my psychological and emotional state since that happened has been TORMENT! I’ve had flashbacks to my childhood about my father. Plus I’ve been having night terrors. So, with all that being said, I am not the only Transgender Woman up here at this prison that has been attacked. This has to stop!!
We need help up here. This abuse and brutality is out of hand! Anybody that is willing to help, please feel free to write. Also to the other Muslim brothers and sisters, Transgender or not: AS SALAAMU ALAIKUM! I would love to get to meet other Musilimahs like me. My name is Neah Hafsa ASLYon or sometimes Tequila or Seaneal. Sease Beard #1251289, J.C.C.C. 8200 No More Victims Rd. Jefferson City MO 65101
On November 12th Mad Mob had its first demonstration since the beginning of covid. The action called for the end of conservatorship, mental health treatment on demand, and took place as part of a national day of support for Britney Spears, who was having her final hearing, challenging her 12 year conservatorship by her father. While the case of Britney Spears has educated the public on the draconian nature of conservatorship, which removes a person’s independent decision making, assigning instead a court-appointed guardian, most people who are conserved do not have the vast financial resources of Britney, a famous pop star. The vast majority of people conserved are people with psychiatric disabilities and no resources. One of the slogans of the rally was #ItsNotJustBritney.
The action was held at San Francisco General Hospital because the psychiatric emergency service there is often the beginning of the process of incarcerating people with psychiatric disabilities. Such incarceration can lead to long term conservatorship. There was an excellent turnout of about 60-70 people from Gay Shame, LAGAI, Mental Health First, Mental Health Association, Senior Disability Action and others. There were fabulous signs such as MAD PRIDE and a big CONSERVATORSHIP IS TOXIC banner.
A number of people spoke about first-hand traumatic experiences of being held against their will during a mental health crisis and the utter lack of actual treatment they received. The point was made that the gun-happy police routinely kill people during a mental health crisis, underscoring the immediate need for peer led crisis intervention deescalation teams to respond to emergencies. People talked about San Francisco’s frequent practice of conserving people and sending them to board and care homes in distant counties in the central valley, far from friends and support systems. Complete lack of low income/public housing, adequate supportive housing and waiting lists for substance abuse programs and shelters exacerbates mental health crises leading to incarceration and conservatorship. Rebecca from Anti Police Terror Project spoke about the use of conservatorship by the federal government and thieving lawyers to steal Native American land under the guise of ”protecting” indigenous people.
Mad Mob is a mad led group, a part of the San Francisco nonprofit Senior Disability Action. There are a range of political point of views which grow out of people’s lived experience with the current broken oppressive NON treatment system. Many people are abolitionists wanting an end to all incarceration including conservatorship/guardianship. Along with this people want treatment on demand. Many people are part of peer run support projects and crisis response alternatives to the police. Recent meetings have included the idea of supported decision making in the place of conservatorship. People are also discussing ways to create mutual aid as well as more direct action opposing conservatorship. Mad Mob meetings on zoom are open and information can be found at sdaction.org.
This work, like all our activist work, calls for a complete transformation of the current system.
There are a lot of bad laws. And there are some good laws that contain bad exemptions. When California passed the state sanctuary law, SB54, it included carve outs (bad) that allows law enforcement agents to voluntarily turn some people over to ICE, based on convictions. It is voluntary. These types of laws allow bad people to do bad things to other people with impunity. Since 2017 the sheriff of San Mateo County has turned over 100 people to ICE. Every year a Truth Act Forum is held to review the practice of handing people over to ICE who imprisons them again and can deport them. Once a person is deported there is very little that can be done to reunite them with their people.
The 2021 Truth Act Forum for San Mateo County was held on November 3 over Zoom. SMC sheriff Bolanos turned more people over to ICE this year than any other county in the Bay Area. According to the department of justice, he turned over 26 people. The sheriff disputes this number and claims the feds are counting charges, not people and that he turned over 15, not 26. But even one is too many!
San Mateo County for Immigrant Rights (SMCCIR) held a rally outside the county offices in Redwood City before the Forum began. About 50 people participated and a lot of media showed up to interview and film the event.
The Truth Act Forum was organized by SMCCIR and presented by the SMC Board of Supervisors. For the first time the BOS allowed SMCCIR to have same amount of time as the sheriff in their presentations. The presenters included the sheriff, Melanie Kim from Asian Law Caucus and SMCCIR, Scott Sherman, an attorney from the private defenders (San Mateo is one of the only counties in California with no public defender’s office), and Angel Benito, a community leader who was deported to Mexico two years ago.
The sheriff gave the same talk he gives every year. He runs through the carve outs to show he is acting within the law, that his main concern is for the victims of the convicted person, public safety, and the very poor excuse that he is protecting the community from future crime. Scott Sherman explained, among other points, that when people who are undocumented are arrested for a minor crime, the police will often threaten to turn them over to ICE immediately to convince them to plead to a more serious crime so that they go to prison in California. Then that major crime makes them eligible to be turned over to ICE after they serve their sentence here.
Melanie Kim presented slides with statistics about the terrible conditions and treatment that people are subjected to in ICE detention, including racial injustices, physical and sexual violence and medical neglect. A poll by U.S. Immigration Policy Center at University of California San Diego, commissioned by Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus showed of that 80% of respondents — including 76% of self-described conservative voters and 54% of registered Republican voters — agree or strongly agree that regardless of what country a person was born in, they should be released from prison or jail after completing their sentences. Six of out of every ten respondents say that the statement “after an immigrant who is convicted of a crime serves their prison or jail time, they should be allowed to return to their community here in California and rebuild their life” aligns closest with their personal views.
Angel Benito spoke to us from Mexico. He was deported after spending three years in ICE detention. He told of the mistreatment by ICE, the lack of proper nourishment and extreme medical neglect. He also talked about his family and community left behind – his mother and child, who he hasn’t seen in more than three years and how hard it is to be an absent father.
The meeting was then opened for public comment. More than 60 people spoke in favor of ending the county’s collaboration with ICE. Many of them were immigrants who expressed how unsafe they feel in San Mateo County. Not a single person supported the sheriff’s policy of collaboration. Upon completion of the public comments the supervisors responded to the testimonies. Supervisors Pine, Slocum and Canepa all said that they wanted the end of transfers to ICE. Horsley did not agree. Groom said she would like to see a committee formed to discuss how this might happen. The County manager was asked if there was any way for the BOS to affect the sheriff’s policy but he did not have a good answer.
On November 9, a week after the forum, Bolanos announced that he was changing the policy and that the sheriff’s department would no longer be cooperating with ICE. We are still waiting for an official written statement of this change of policy. And we are still pressuring the BOS to pass an anti-collaboration with ICE ordinance to cement this change.
While we celebrate this victory, we also have to acknowledge the irreparable harm done to the people and their friends and families who were impacted by this cruel and devastating transfer practice that has been going on for four years. Bolanos has yet to acknowledge all the damage that has been done to the community and families of people who were held in ICE custody or deported due to his discriminatory practice of turning people over to ICE.
In 2022 the VISION Act will come before the state senate once again. This law will prevent any law enforcement agent from turning people over to ICE after they are released from prison. The state prisons are the worst offenders in this: 80% of people in ICE detention are there because local and state police and prison officials are working with ICE. The VISION Act will end this practice.
Phoeun You, a Cambodian refugee is due to be released from San Quentin State Prison in late December or early January. Phoeun is an incredible leader and has supported many folks in coming home from prison. He is one of the founding members of ROOTS, an ethnic studies based course, inside of San Quentin. Despite serving over 25 yrs, being found suitable for parole, & giving back to his community, Phoeun You, a Cambodian genocide survivor, and refugee is facing ICE arrest. Stop this double punishment against Phoeun. @GavinNewsom #ProtectPhoeun and #StopICETransfers now!
The supreme kkkourt just heard arguments about the Mississippi law banning abortion after about 15 weeks from the start of a person’s last menstrual period. The law’s very likely to be upheld, and it could lead to a decision overturning Roe v. Wade altogether. Contrary to what you might have heard, that doesn’t mean abortion will be outlawed nationally. It means that states will be able to outlaw all, some or most abortion care. States have been chipping away at abortion rights since the Hyde Amendment was passed in 1976, preventing any federal funds from being used for abortion services. Abortion care is already very difficult to access and it will get worse. It will not, however, go away, and there is a lot we can (and must) do to preserve it.
Here are a few facts:
Roe v. Wade did not make abortion legal. It made it illegal for states to unduly restrict it. By that time, six states already had legal abortion, including New York and California.
17 states have passed laws restricting or eliminating abortion, which will go into effect as soon as Roe is overturned.
Six states, including California, have laws to protect the right to reproductive choice.
90% percent of US counties currently have no abortion provider, and nearly 40% of reproductive age women live in those counties.
Only 15 states provide public financing for abortion (meaning, you can use your Medicaid for abortion).
In 2014, 53% of abortion patients paid out of pocket for the procedure, which costs an average of $508 in the first trimester. 50% of women seeking abortion fall below the federal poverty level.
Medication (as opposed to surgical) abortions accounted for 39% of all abortions in 2017.
The majority of medication abortions are offered in specialized clinics (as are surgical abortions). In 2017, 30% of clinics provided only medication abortion.
Almost every state has at least one abortion fund, which helps women get the care they need. Many funds also help arrange travel or places for people to stay if they have to go out of town to get care. Find out who is doing this work in your area at abortionfunds.org. They all need money and most also need volunteers.
Donating and offering rides and housing is not enough. The right to the health care we choose is a political issue. Visible outrage and determination are essential. Protest and action do matter, even in “blue states” where abortion rights are safe.
ABORTION ON DEMAND WITHOUT APOLOGY – WE WON’T GO BACK