Homefulness is a houseless, landless people’s self-determined solution to homelessness in Oakland CA according to Poor Magazine, a grass roots nonprofit organization and the developer of the 4 brand new multi-family buildings in East Oakland. All 4 have been finished for a year, ready to house homeless families but despite the thousands of people sleeping on the streets, city officials won’t let anyone move in.
Lisa “Tiny” Gray-Garcia, cofounder of Poor Magazine, says that the city of Oakland makes it impossible for small nonprofits without code expertise and a lot of money to navigate all the rules and regulations. It’s taken months and thousands of dollars to address the never ending list of requirements. Poor Magazine, which also runs an aid organization, youth newspaper, school and radio station, has been working on the MacArthur Boulevard project for more than 10 years. They raised hundreds of thousands of dollars in piecemeal donations to buy the property and build the townhomes, which will house between eight and 12 homeless people, rent-free. The money comes from Poor Magazine’s “Solidarity Family” — a group of dozens of people who donate their time, skills and money. The group eventually hopes to open a cafe that will help pay for the property’s ongoing costs.
But the project has run into obstacle after obstacle. The city doesn’t answer calls or emails asking questions about the permitting requirements, leaving Poor Magazine to interpret complicated city ordinances on its own. Among other regulations, the city recently required 3 parking spaces so the nonprofit raised more money and finished the parking spaces in January. It cost $34,000 to level the ground, pour the concrete and move a utility box that was in the way. But that wasn’t the end of it. Each subsequent city inspection pointed out something else Poor Magazine had to fix. They’d fix it, and then the city would come up with something else. Now Poor Magazine is on the hook for $40,000 in ‘Impact’ Fees. City officials issued Poor Magazine’s building permit in May 2016, and waived the fees until March — a grace period that now has expired. Adding to the ridiculousness of it all, the bulk of that $40,000 bill, which the homeless advocacy group is unable to pay, would go toward helping the city build affordable housing.
So the houses sit empty. On March 1st, Poor Magazine organized a protest. Carrying tents and planning to spend the night, they occupied the planning and building dept. in Oakland’s “Shitty Hall”, but left when the police were called. The organization is asking people to call the Oakland Building Department, (510) 238-3941, and leave a message of support for the Homefulness project. Urge the city to drop the ‘Impact’ Fees and provide a Certificate of Occupancy so that the four finished buildings can finally be open for people to move into. Everyone should have a home. It is a basic human right.
In February, the board of trustees of City College decided to lay off 50 full time faculty members. There will be an appeal period but by the middle of May their decisions will be final. To add insult to injury, most of the part time teachers must be dismissed first before the trustees can lay off a single full time teacher, according to the AFT 2121 the union representing the faculty. This will disproportionately impact faculty of color and younger teachers. And where does that leave the students one wonders.
Budget concerns are the excuse the trustees are using but the Union has proposed a budget that accounts for a cost of living adjustment from the state and makes cuts on different areas such as consultant fees. The state of California has a budget surplus, why can’t money be allocated to save City College? Or save the schools in Oakland for that matter? Or actually, prioritize education all over the state?
More submissions from prisoners
Dear Marvelous, Magnificent Beings. This is Summer Breeze, just stopping by to kick new flavor in your ear. What’s the tea? How y’all doing? Did you hear about “Da Baby” losing his record deal due to homophobic slurs and gay hate that he shared with fans at a recent concert? I love Da Baby, I have spent a lot of money on his music. I really enjoy his music. But, I bet he made a lot of people feel some type of way when he made comments about gays being in poor health and dying in 2 or 3 weeks from STDs. How does that make you feel? Do you think artists should keep their views/comments to themselves? Da Baby did apologize but he was still dropped by clothing designers, sponsors etc. Da Baby needs some LGBT friends, he missing out. We some damn good people, inside and outside. We are the stitch that holds the fabric of the world together. We got beauty, brains and we are one of the greatest inventions God ever made. Artists like Da Baby need to use their platforms to fight against issues that plague us all and stop focusing on, and hating on, LGBT people. Family, how y’all feel? Will y’all still support him? Holla at me, let me know something. LaDeric McDonald#1290182, WMCC, 609 E Pence Rd. Cameron MO 64429
Hey it’s me again, Quila Quinn! Well, anyways I am going through a lot here in Missouri. The struggle is very real. However I am a very strong willed woman and I am a survivor so I’m hard to break. Even though I definitely have my moments but who doesn’t inside these cruel oppressive walls. Despite all the pain and retaliation actions I have had to endure, I still continue to fight back. So, to all my brothers and sisters out there, know that I will not stop fighting for a thorough change within this messed up system that these people call Correctional. Ha, ha, ha, there’s NOTHING correct about this place. You are not alone! For anybody who wants to help or even just pay attention to what is transpiring with my lawsuit against these violent and demeaning police and staff here in Jefferson City MO (the capital). Here is my case # 2:21-CV-04211-SRB. I don’t have much support except from my best friend/husband and my very dedicated LGBT family. I need outside support from my LGBT people or allies. Ms Sease Beard #1251289, J.C.C.C. 8200 No More Victims Rd. Jefferson City MO 65101
Sign of Altruism
Airy signs all have some relationship to intellectual capacity. Gemini represents contrasts; Libra represents comparisons, i.e. how two or more things are the same. Aquarius sees beyond similarities and differences, into the complete picture. The symbol of Aquarius is a man bearing a pitcher of water which is being poured out. It is the “son of man” selflessly pouring out wisdom upon all of humanity without respect of persons.
Mathematically, the sun passes through each sign of the zodiac in about 25,000 years. This allows each sign to have rulership for about 2000 years. We are currently in Pisces, sign of the fishes, and have been since about 400 AD. Before that we were in the age of Aries the lamb and still further back we were in Taurus, sign of the bull. This symbolism has played out in the various religions of the world. In the Age of Aquarius, which is now dawning, the idea will be the Brotherhood of man and the Fatherhood of God. Dallas Hastings #274624, Davis C.F. 6888 E 133rd Rd. Holdenville OK 74848 reprinted from The Inside View, an Inmate Publication from Davis C.F.
The Florida Department of Corrections has a slogan. Now brace yourself because it’s pretty comical. “Inspiring success by transforming one life at a time.” Wow. That’s crazy because I’ve seen no evidence of this. It’s all for show, I’m guessing. Politics … making the website look good. The website claims to be big on reentry but even if they don’t have the budget or resources to help us, what they actually do here is hurt us. A rare few of us come out of here better than when we came in but most of us leave worse. The people who work here are to blame for that. Every day we are met with scowling faces and harsh words; belittlement and name calling. The bullies have badges. Helping broken people build self-esteem and self-worth would cost the Department nothing in terms of money. Seriously? How do you expect me to get out, find a job, look an employer in the eye and convince him I’m the right one for the job? The officers who bully us and abuse their authority lie when confronted and the abuse continues and gets worse. What would the recidivism rate look like if things were different? What if we were encouraged instead of belittled? Smiled at instead of scowled upon? What if the FDOC hired people with good moral character, honesty and good positive attitudes? People who helped us up instead of held us down? Encouraged us and reassured us that we do matter because we do. #PrisonersLivesMatter. Kay Tomasello AKA Trip #163958, 3700 NW 111th Pl. Ocala FL 34482
As concerned world citizens, we are writing to bring to your urgent attention the dire situation of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, and other Queer refugees currently living in Block 13 of the Kakuma refugee camp in the Turkana County of northwest Kenya. These courageous people have left their homes and families in their countries such as Uganda and Burundi because they faced violence, even death, and certainly no opportunities to live fulfilling lives. Homophobic attitudes and laws making their very identities illegitimate. In Kakuma camp, which has an enormous population – over 180,000 people in 2021 – they have been placed together in Block 13, which has been designated as a space for queer community members. This has been fortunate in one way, as they have been able to find each other, share resources, and offer support, but in another way it has made it easier for them to be targets of homophobic violence at the hands of other camp residents.
This situation cries out for intervention from the UNHCR. Isolated and marginalized, terrified to leave their quarters at night for fear of attacks, the LGBTQI residents of Kakuma have been raped, beaten, and set on fire, sometimes with deadly results. Out of desperation some LGBTQI asylum seekers have attempted suicide. In mid-August 2021, a fire destroyed the shelters and meager possessions of the residents of Block 13. Instead of offering support and protection, camp authorities blamed LGBTQI residents for the fire and arrested several. Medical care is often cursory or unavailable. At this date, many of the group are spending nights sleeping outside the compound since it is safer no matter what the weather. And there they are threatened by homophobic men from the camp as they sleep. Lesbians are particular targets of rape and have virtually no access to legal recourse or medical treatment. Many have children that they cooperate to protect. A major worry is the fate of their children if they are killed.
No one could deny that this is an inhumane and potentially disastrous situation. These LGBTQI survivors need immediate help to be relocated to a safe location and prioritized for refugee status and asylum. As concerned citizens, we strongly urge that the UNHCR take a leadership role in safeguarding this most vulnerable population from the daily suffering they are enduring. The simple fact of their survival in these horrifying conditions is a testimony to a strength and sense of community that would be an asset to any society in which they might be relocated.
According to The Statute of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the “essential function of the UNHCR is to provide international protection to refugees and to seek durable solutions to their problems by facilitating either their voluntary repatriation or their integration into new national communities in safe and with dignity.”
❖ We demand that the UNHCR insist that the Kenyan government fast track meaningful asylum (REFUGEE STATUS DETERMINATION) to all LGBTQI asylum seekers around Kakuma and wherever they are in Kenya.
❖ We demand that you give your protection for all LGBTQI refugees to transit safely from Kakuma Camp to Nairobi and to be protected for the duration of their stay in Kenya.
❖ We demand the UNHCR immediately offer physical protection to the LGBTQI+ refugees and asylum seekers in block 13 and all over Kakuma camp because they all face homophobia and violence.
❖ We demand the UNHCR clarify whether their intent is to close this camp and if so work with all camp residents to find a satisfactory new residence.
❖ We demand that UNHCR resume the food and water supplies that were being provided but have now been ended including resupplying rice to residents.
❖ We demand the UNHCR immediately stop the attacks and mis-characterizing of the LGBTQI+ asylum seekers and refugees under their care and instead perform their mandate to give them protection from the hostile community.
❖ We demand that Kakuma be labeled a hostile environment to LGBTQIA+ refugees and asylum seekers and that the UNHCR evacuate LGBTQI+ asylum seekers and refugees to a mutually agreed upon safer place to stop further harm and loss of lives.
We beg you not to ignore this letter, but to act for justice and human rights in the name of the citizens of the world.
I’m not sure when I first learned the phrase “parade of horribles” but long enough ago that I didn’t realize it isn’t something everyone says. In legalese it means a cascade of bad results that could happen in the future if one decision is made now. But it is mostly used when the actual effects of a decision are largely unknown, not when the effects are predictable. It is, in short, a way of deflecting the real meaningful discussion by introducing a lot of speculative bad things that could happen but are entirely unknown. We have seen a lot of this in the struggle for LGBTQI and BIPOC rights . . . the queers will be the end of procreation, or worse, they will procreate and make all queer children…. a pride parade will undermine community morals… Queer teachers will corrupt their students, queer marriage will undermine the value of straight marriage, trans people using bathrooms or even existing will cause the end of the world or lesbians or something.
And of course we are seeing it with climate change and covid vaccines. Rather than a rational transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy that includes conservation, efficiency and community control, the giant corporations are insisting it has to be done their way with massive industrial projects and, oh by the way, the corporations will still keep drilling for oil and gas and burning fossil fuels for more energy and plastics to pollute all the lands and waters, because if you don’t let us do that the AC might go out on a hot summer day or you won’t have a plastic bag for your groceries or even a plastic tube for your IV when you get to the hospital with your climate induced asthma. I won’t even try to explain the parade of horribles that has been concocted to dissuade people from taking vaccines— magnetism being just the latest one I heard (shesh, these people should wish they had some magnetism!).
A parade of horribles is not easy to counter directly, because it is hard to prove a negative, but it can be countered by going to the source of the issue and not getting distracted by the parade. The real horribles are already in progress, the collapse of ecosystems and extinction of species across the globe and the suffering of people for corporate greed—but the corporate cronies keep trying to distract us from real solutions with the parade.
I’ve been thinking a lot about finding focus because I keep losing it these days. It is not just the constant emails at work but also the itch to check on the latest wildfires and whether they are contained, check the air quality near me to see if I can go out for a walk or have to close all the windows and turn on an air filter, check if the supreme court has taken away more rights today, see whether having a late period or a miscarriage can get a person jailed or fined, see how many more indigenous environmental activists have been killed or jailed, see if Biden or Haaland has listened to the Line 3 protesters yet (dream on), find out if more dead grey whales are washing up on the west coast (12 in the SF Bay area as of June this year), if the idiotic border wall is falling down or being put back up to destroy more habitat and people’s lives, if it is legal to be queer in any of the states of america, or to see how many more queers are being killed in other countries. I count myself lucky that I am not drawn down the rabbit hole of other people’s lives on line — what they ate for dinner (with photo), where they went, what annoys them, what they did today— but I do admit to “following” some artist friends to see what they drew/painted/sculpted/assembled recently and some chefs for dinner inspiration. It is truly endless this “firehose” of information. (Another interesting phrase, if a bit gruesome, “drinking from a firehose” means trying to absorb too much information at once but to me it sounds painful and resonates of civil rights activists being assaulted by police with high pressure water from a fire hose.)
Ultimately I am wondering why I have this wide-ranging need to know so much? Why can’t I limit my questions to the local air quality and Covid restrictions that affect my immediate daily life? Which brings me to the confusing phrase “need to know”—in the legal world, corporate boardrooms, and espionage or spy thrillers this means that only a few people who really need to know something should have the information—but the phrase also rings the other way—the need to know everything one can, right now, immediately. The second meaning tracks with the availability of huge amounts of information available nearly instantaneously for many people and the itch to know it all, now. I’m still trying to parse out what this means for me on a daily basis—what is the “need” or is it a “want” and really what do I “know” after reading all the news and tweets and grams? No answers yet, just more questions.
I have a diagnosis of Bipolar I with psychosis. When I’m manic and psychotic it’s like living in a dream world where you suddenly aren’t wearing shoes or socks. And pretty soon after the shoes are gone the cops or paramedics appear.
I developed a hatred for ambulances after the first time I was 5150ed. 5150 is California code for involuntary psychiatric hold. Being restrained in the back of an ambulance transformed how I saw the vehicles. Having EMTs threaten to force me to wear a spit hood really put me off emergency workers. My hatred of police had a firm hold since long before experiences being locked up on mental health. But after my first 5150 I’d stare at ambulances out the window and know they were hunting crazy people to lock away.
I can hear all the exceptions and defenses of EMTs cascading in my own mind. But I knew what I knew. There is nothing you can say that will get them to let you go once that switch has been flipped. The mouse trap that starts with losing your shoes and ends at John George Psychiatric Pavilion.
So I’ll hear the wail of a siren and remember being strapped down, remember the nurse who shoved his thumb into my jaw in a pain-compliance hold that electrified me into stillness, and seethe with EMT hate.
In the aftermath of a manic episode, it is easy to backslide on all the conclusions I arrived at during psychosis. The shame washes over my experiences and the overwhelming gravitational pull toward “they were just trying to help” drags me backwards. Maybe the nurses are burnt out, maybe the EMTs have vicarious trauma.
But if I am true to my manic psychotic self, if I keep my eyes open underwater here’s what I see: potentially deadly chemical restraint administered with impunity in concert with police. EMTs physically forcing neurodivergent people into so-called treatment. The technologies of coercion: gurneys, straps, spit hoods, sedatives.
I want a vision of abolition that refuses forced psychiatric holds. Healing based on treatment on demand. An understanding of the carceral that includes psych wards and hospitals. An end to systems designed to punish and isolate strange behavior. Healing spaces that aren’t designed for social control. A world without police.
While the COVID pandemic locked us in our homes this past year, it did not stop the police terror or victimization of Black, Brown and Indigenous people in the U.S. We witnessed the police murder of Breonna Taylor, a Black women EMT at the beginning of the pandemic and have just commemorated the one-year anniversary of the assassination of George Floyd, a Black man, by the Minneapolis police. Tony McDade, a transgender Black man, was killed by the Tallahassee shortly after Floyd was killed. The police terror of Black and Brown people continues at an alarming rate as we enter this year’s Pride month.
The US government, not content with its war at home against Black and Brown people, exports police terror abroad. We are sickened by the continued occupation of Palestine by Israel, which is armed and supported by the U.S. In fact, while Israel was bombing the West Bank and Gaza (during the end of Ramadan and the beginning of Eid, two Muslim holidays), the U.S. Congress was approving over $700 million in arms to Israel, which is widely recognized as a settler apartheid state. Over 243 Palestinians, including 66 children, were killed by Israeli police actions and terrorism.
This year’s Pride marks the 52nd anniversary of the great Stonewall Rebellion which in reality was a militant demonstration, led by working class transgender youth and drag queens, against police brutality and oppression. The most marginalized and oppressed of the LGBTQ+ community came together on June 28, 1969, to rebel against a police raid on the Stonewall Inn in New York City. The transgender community in the Tenderloin neighborhood of San Francisco had already protested similar police oppression and raids in August 1966 in what has come to be known as the “Compton Cafeteria Riots.” The LGBTQ+ movement was born out of the movement against police terror.
In 2015 it was reported by the Williams Institute that 48 percent of LGBTQ+ victims of violence experienced police violence. In 2015, the same institute reported that 58 percent of trans people said they were victims of verbal harassment, persistent misgendering, physical and sexual assault and forced to perform sexual acts to avoid being arrested. Of course the groups most affected by police violence within the community are Black and Brown LGBTQ+ people. Unarmed Black people are 3.49 times more likely to be killed by the police compared to their white counterparts.
It is critical that we live up to our heritage and stop police violence against our community. It is high time that all cops be kicked out of Pride whether Pride events are virtual or in person. No police of any kind, including police officers, members of the FBI or other federal police agencies, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), or prison guards, should be allowed to participate in Pride activities. We applaud the actions of New York City’s Heritage of Pride organizer who banned uniformed police and security from all events this year and through 2025. We challenge all Pride organizers to ban any participation of these purveyors of racist violence.
Additionally, we urge all Pride organizers to terminate any connection with colonizers including the Israeli Consulate, and to take a strong stand against US support for the continued occupation of Palestine. LGBTQ+ Pride should fully embrace the Boycott, Divest and Sanctions movement against Israel. Additionally, Pride should call upon the US government to stop military aid to all governments oppressing its people including Haiti, the Philippines, Yemen, and Korea.
This year, let us demand an end to racist police terror not only in the U.S. but across the globe. Stonewall must once again commemorate and inspire the continued rebellion against US racism and oppression everywhere.
graphic by Toni Love Valenzela #3144589, Lacy Facility, 51 City Dr. South, Orange, CA 92868
Making a Change
I read your newsletter every time it glides under my door and I read it again and again. It amazes me how out of touch this prison is when it comes to most of the things you all talk about.
Yes, I am a Lesbian. I was when on the streets as well as now. I have been the queen of many drag shows even though I am a woman. I have been dubbed by our Mother herself out of Modesto CA. I have been here for 18 years, doing a double life sentence. Although I love to read about our community, I’m afraid not a lot of the women nor trans are as educated as I wished them to be. The C.O.s still address them as ‘mam’ or ‘she’ even though it’s clear they are in transition. We have a small amount of what we call the “real deal” (-: A lot of these girls come in here looking for a quick fix for love [for the] rest of us this is a life style.
The ‘Finally a Change” and “Prison is Still Prison” articles brought tears to my eyes. It still blows me away how ignorant people still are after all this time. I haven’t been out for a while but when I see the TV and there is a Vera Wang wedding ring being advertised and you see 2 women or the Black girl with freckles or big white girls in clothing ads or the Asian girl on the make-up ads … even the ones where we are all united looks like a step forward. I mean, come on, that’s what United States means, right? Coming together. This next generation, man, everyone better watch out. It could go many ways. My heart and my soul are into making a change. If anyone can help me do that here in this prison, please write me. Oh and all you that are coming, welcome. Please look me up, I am in IAC. Hopefully we won’t be locked down for quarantine, I can show you around.
Darlene R Fouse #X17951, CA Institute for Women/WA-860L, 16756 Chino-Corona Rd. Corona CA 92880
Expose the Unjust Justice System
First off, I want to shoot a recognized shout out to my LGBT Family! You are the only family I have and I cherish that to the fullest extent. However, my intentions of writing this article is not based on sentiment. It’s all love though! Now down to business. Our family here at Jefferson City C.C. in Missouri is facing oppression that we should not have to face. As well as the rest of the population that inhabits this prison. We are all being denied adequate Health Care.
The medical staff tell us we must fill out Health Services Request forms (HSRs) whenever we have a complaint. Well, there’s two major problems with that declaration. The first being they do not provide us with sufficient access to those forms that they insist we fill out. Secondly, when we are able to obtain one of these nearly extinct “proper medical forms” and we fill it out with our professed complaints and we turn them in, we do not receive any kind of notification or response that our request has been received let alone acknowledged. This is blatantly denying us all the right (as human beings) to access to adequate medical care. That is also a direct violation of our constitutional rights under the 8th Amendment: the right to be free of cruel and unusual punishment. We cannot obtain relief even when we seek it through the “proper channels” that they call protocol!
As I am a Transgender woman currently undergoing Hormone Replacement Therapy, this is a more personal issue. This does not change the fact that I am NOT the only one affected by this deliberate indifference to serious medical needs. Being placed on HRT puts me into a special medical category called “chronic care. Any person placed in “chronic care” is supposed to be monitored and assessed every 90 days by a medical team and on an ‘as needed’ basis. I am going to expose the fact that they have not followed that protocol either. This is the scariest part of all these evil wrong doings (at least from my point of view speaking specifically HRT). Estrogen has high risks especially when taking it in high doses. One of the risks is cancer. How do I know that these lumps that are forming in my breast aren’t cancer cells instead of growing buds, if I can’t get medical staff to assess me?
Due to the severity of the danger presented to the LGBT people of this prison as well as others, I am calling out in despair for action against these evil tormentors especially during a time of crisis such as the Corona Virus Pandemic!! Please anybody that is on the outside, and inside, that is willing to help, that would be greatly appreciated! This oppression needs to come to an end! Let’s expose this unjust so called ‘justice system’. Much love and respect from the United Homosexual Family here in Missouri and from Tequila AKA Seaneal. Ms Sease Beard #1251289, Jefferson City C.C./8-B-108, 8200 No More Victims Rd. Jefferson City MO 65101
It’s Gotten Out of Hand
We can’t even exist amongst anything without giving it a damn title. Today, more than ever before, critics are compelled to push labels onto other human beings as if we’re some canned food on the shelf. At one point, and of course currently in many places, I was exclusively identified as: Blacky, Africano, Negroid, Hood, Ghetto dweller, Thugg, Drug Dealer, Gangster, Gang banger, Pimp, Convicted felon turned Crime Novelist.
Each of those rather hard core attributes fit for some [that] Society will aim to keep in the most darkest place of misfortune – Prison. Would any names be softened if the target was of the LGBTQ+? Nope! To my discomfort, I’ve stood in pain while listening to my former circle call Trannies “fag” or “punk”. The pain came from wanting to safeguard my own secret from the verbal abuse. Yet I wish those Trannies could stand next to me now because while they were taking those jabs, not once did they consider to expose me. I’ve partied with them and they chose to let the experience stand as a lesson of what I’d face eventually.
In the 90’s era of hip hop, the rapper (Nore) called people like me Homo-Thuggz in his song ‘What-what’. Wendy Williams was a radio host at Hot-97 during that same time and used a game called “Guess the Gay rapper” to expose a rapper from Jersey City. But on the whole, we were all subjected to the tag of “on the down low”.
Wow! Can I please just be considered me? Why has that been so hard to understand? For so long, society has made it difficult even for myself to accept my own truth.
Crazy love to my entire LGBTQ+ Fam! I was amazed at all those who recognized my short comment in the previous issue. I just want to add, it’s not over. Keep that mask on! Stay safe! Robert A (the Boogie Mann) Thompson #AN7958, CTF/north RB#326, PO Box 705, Soledad CA 93960
Survival: My Only Option
As a Trans-woman who is 110% out and proud, I get my fair share of hate coming my way. We as LGBTQIA+ have been hated on since the dawn of time. Where do you think that has led us? It has led us to be the highest group of people to commit suicide! LGBT+ people are twice as likely to commit suicide compared to the general population with Trans people being four times likely. I have tried to commit suicide on multiple occasions: OD-ing on pain pills, cutting my wrists and/or jumping off roofs. I did these suicide attempts because people were not accepting me as the woman I am, instead of the man I NEVER was. The main people that caused me pain were my parents and siblings once I told them I was Trans and they kicked me out of their life.
It has been 11 years since I spoke with my family but I’m proud to say I am doing good despite not having them in my life. In fact, I’m doing GREAT. The last time I tried committing suicide I was 24 years old. I’m 29 now so it’s been almost 5 years since that time. Since that time, I have come to realize in prison that survival is my only option. I have been sexually assaulted, physically assaulted and verbally assaulted dozens of times in the past 5 years that I’ve been here in prison but it has not changed me. There are going to be times when you feel like killing yourself over another person hating you for who you are and there may be times you got assaulted. I want you to know you CAN be a survivor like me. I am proof that just because you are hurt, does not mean it should take control of your life. I am living proof that you can survive as long as you put your mind to it! I may not have family support but I still have family in the LGBTQ+ Community. All you folks who think you are alone, you need to know you are loved by your brothers and sisters.
Having LAGAI, the Transgender Law Center, The TGI Justice Project, The Utah Pride Center, The Utah Equality Center, Black and Pink and the Sylvia Rivera Law Project (just to name a few) has really helped me survive! Please take advantage of the many resources that are available to in our community. You are LOVED. You are important. And you CAN survive!
Feel free to write me any time and I will write back. Please only use lined/blank paper or postcards when you write me. Also: only blue or black ink. Utah state rules.
Daisy Mae Ross/David Torrey #228565, Utah S.P. PO Box 250, Draper UT 84020
Shorts from Inside
When was the last time someone was hurt by equality? #erasehate. AC, Cheshire CT
Since 2015 I’ve been struggling as a transwoman on all male units. For the past three and a half years I’ve struggled to not only gain recognition of my gender identity – but trying to obtain medical care as well. Through the encouragement I received from so many readers of UV, I kept trying. I’m so excited to announce that my efforts have not only helped change policy, but that on March 23 I had my first appointment (via zoom) with the University of Minnesota’s Center for Sexual Health to begin medical transition. My legal transition was completed in 2017. To my brothers, sisters and other beautiful people I want to share the words that have, and still continue to, move me forward: “All we can do is try, if we make an attempt, then we didn’t fail. So far I haven’t failed and neither will you.” – Lisa Strawn. Kendra-Michelle Lovejoy, Moose Lake MN
I am a 30 year old trans-woman half white-half Filipino, serving 12 at an Arizona Men’s Prison! I’ve been on Hormone-therapy for 2 years, 5 months and am allowed to order women’s clothing (bras, panties), make-up and other items like curlers and barrettes. I am currently trying to legally change my name through my county’s Superior Court (Maricopa County). I’ve been denied two times for my sex-reassignment surgery because the AZ DOC said they weren’t going to pay for it! I get released in 2025 and am trying to prepare for my surgery as much as I can before release. I think about GASS and suicide everyday in here and have attempted both several times. God bless UV and hello to all my sisters! Amy Rose Vehmeier, Florence AZ
It’s 2021 and runaway kids are still unable to get a proper education. In fact, runaways are part of the Ultra Violet Prism. I think it’s time for a change. It’s 2021 and we should provide more resources for all youth. We as a people can do that. In and outside the LGBTQ Community, people are miseducated or not educated at all. (On so many levels.) Runaways have it even harder because the youth don’t have access to the things most people have. Prison, Death or Addiction is very likely to be in a runaway’s future. White Raven, Florence AZ
I especially enjoyed your March/April edition. I appreciate the way you present such colorful perspective, and the perseverance and grit that always fills your pages. I was moved to read about the legends you lost this year. The smiles they carried were incredibly telling. I’m smiling myself after a recent accomplishment and hoping you might share the moment with me. I was a guest speaker yesterday for a university law symposium. They booked me from Ad-Seg; I’ve never heard of anything like that. A lot of tears were shared … Cissy Lovey, Boise ID
Please support and promote #GONELONGENOUGH on all your social media. #GONELONGENOUGH stands for a number of criminal justice and prison reform issues, including: lowering sentences and abolishing mandatory minimums. We’ve made the first step. Without a second step, there’s no real progress being made. Let’s move together in criminal justice and prison reform. Make #GONELONGENOUGH that second step. Kelly Jones, betweenthebars.org/blogs/747
Hello out there. I want to express that I worked 7 long months to create a LGBTQ bookshelf on my unit. I’m a big reader and got tired of not seeing anything related to the LGBTQ [community] so I got to work. We are one in all LGBTQ prison communities and we need to stand together. Alexander Williams, Navasota TX
To all my trans family, I know it’s been a tough year dealing with COVID-19, but we made it. We as trans people have to stick together, we need each other, we lift each other up. It’s bad enuff we have to deal with CDCR and their BS, we don’t need the hate amongst us, between us. Because at the end of the day, who understands you? Your trans fam. C’mon y’all. Love one another! Punkin Pie, Mule Creek, CA
Hello UV and LAGAI! I just now received my very first UV issue and I am already hooked! I am a proud member and advocate of the LGBTQ community and have been openly gay since 2012. When I was arrested and sentenced to FCI Elkton where I currently am, I felt abandoned and shunned by those on the outside [that] I thought were my friends and family. But now since I have been down over 3 years I have found a stronger, closer family: all of you in the LGBTQ family! Because of you all I have become more comfortable and accepting of myself, and no hate or evil in this world is going to change that! I hope everyone is staying safe throughout this COVID crisis. Let us all stay strong and united and spread all the love we can in this world. Jamie AKA “Spark”, Lisbon OH
Hello to all you kings, queens and royals in between. I’m Dominic, a 25 year old transgender and currently incarcerated. I have 12 years left! Reading UV has had a big impact on me. I enjoy reading about out LGBTQ Community and of course the inside short stories from other people like myself. UV family, you give me hope that I will make it out of this horrible place. I’m so proud to be a subscriber. To all my LGBTQ Family across the world, remember we must stick together, together we can make a change. DH, Taber City NC
This is Ms Foxie B, founder of the Rainbow Coalition of Arkansas. This has been a great year so far even while the sky is fallin. Bowels of this prison, the walls rise twenty feet, blocking out the sun, creating a cement and steel tomb for the living whose life of hell is never done. No quiet or solitude yet always alone, trying to keep sanity in place. A hard task for any person who has to wear a mask to cover all emotion. Within the dark bowels of this prison, the animal instinct needed to survive exists in each prisoner’s heart and mind, as he continues his lone fight to stay alive. I just want you all to read and understand life. Girls, stay out of the SuperMax 18 month program. It’s harsh time. Ms Malakhen Asar Maakheru, Grady AR
I am super excited to now be a part of an amazing newsletter I’ve heard so much about. I have to admit, after receiving my first ever newsletter, March 2021, some of the articles brought tears to my eyes. UltraViolet has put forth a tremendous platform for each one of us to be able to come together. I look forward to all of my future issues and hope to learn more. To all, keep up the great work and never stop fighting for what’s right! Stay beautiful. TV, Orange, CA
I’d like to give a shout out to all the great, hardworking staff of UV and all UV readers. Special shout out to Joe Rouse in MI, Tara Belcher in AL, Chantee Haywood in TX, Mia Rosal, Lindsey Heiman, Brianna Harding, Jodi Arias in AZ, Eva Contreas in CA. And any others I might’ve missed. You are all beautiful women worth fighting for. I’ve been locked up 16 years with 1 more to go. I promise to keep in touch with all you! Please have faith. Adrien Espinoza, Phoenix AZ
The Process for My Change
I have recently begun the process of getting the prison to recognize my trans-gender identity. The process is a little involved I’m sure you know. In New Hampshire it starts with a visit to Mental Health (MH) sick call. As I was a scared, confused person, working with a MH counselor was a good idea. The MH counselor meets with you four or five times over the course of a month or two. It’s a process designed to “weed out” the insincere or those who are not actually trans (their words, not mine).
After this rigorous screening, the MH counselor puts in an official request to the “GD Committee”. This committee is made up of relevant department heads and they decide if you are actually trans or not. If you are found to be transgender, you are given the MH diagnosis of Gender Dysmorphia. A mental disorder or illness. So, there are some things about this process that should alarm us. Like the fact that I need ‘authorization’ to be transgender! I just don’t understand the thinking. It’s demeaning, disgusting and degrading. I realize that in prison security is important and that the costs of treatment can be expensive. So, stop locking us up!! To tell someone that the essence of their being is wrong or invalid is just plain evil.
I guess out there [in the streets] you only need to state you are trans and that’s that. In here, it’s a punishable offense to wear make-up if you’re not an official trans-girl. I have a skirt that I made, that’s a huge no-no. A bra or feminine underwear? Absolutely not. I have been in for fifteen years now. I’m not a young and pretty girl any more (to be fair, I was never that pretty). I would never have opened myself up to the abuse and drama that every trans-girl gets from both prisoners and staff, if I was not a transgender. Being queer is invisible, wearing make-up is like wearing a target on my face. Survival is heavily dependent on staying under the radar. I have not yet been ‘approved’ to be transgender but I’m already getting the negative attention. I’m ok with that. I’m trying to learn to use it to my advantage. So far, not so well.
But the thing that really bothers me, and it should bother all of us, is that being trangender is a “disorder”. WTF? There is nothing wrong with me (not in that regard at least). This feels like some sort of concession to the morality Nazis who insist that if you’re not a straight heterosexual, you are an abomination, a sinning SOB destined for whatever Candyland Hell they believe in. If I am not hetero then I am not normal? If I am not born the biological gender of my soul then I have a mental disorder? Wouldn’t that be a physical disorder? Oh no! That is not possible because god doesn’t make mistakes. Oh alright, that makes it all make sense!!??
I am a Native two spirit. I am a Heathen who honors the God and Goddess, Odin and Freyja. Every aspect of who I am has been attacked and destroyed by the ‘dominant culture’. I am in the minority, I know, but I wish others would feel the rage I feel and fight back against the systemic disrespect and oppression leveled at us all. I mean no disrespect to those of you who are part of the ‘dominant culture’. It’s not the people of the culture I hate, it’s the culture of the people. And I do mean hate! For over a thousand years that culture has been killing my people, my religion and my identity with the assurance that they were doing good. If their beliefs could co-exist with other beliefs and not try to convert, save or fix everyone else, I’d be fine. Live and let live. But they can’t. They believe we are doomed and they want to save us. It’s a real tragedy, good people doing evil things believing it’s good.
I want to contribute to UV. I want to get into the fight, effect change, motivate others and shed light on the secret lies of our society. Especially the prisons and ‘criminal justice’ system.
Your ally, Amber AKA Gregory LaVallee #79373, PO Box 14, Concord NH 03301
Earlier this year, Charles (Cristina) Toste arrived here at San Quentin from another CA prison, the first of the anticipated deaf prisoners scheduled to be housed here. The transfer was brought about due to litigation on behalf of deaf prisoners being held in CDRC custody. The controlling case, Armstrong v. Newsom litigated by the law firm Rosen, Bien, Galvan & Grunfield, resulted in CDRC agreeing to provide better accommodations for rehabilitation and education for the [currently] 78 deaf prisoners being held throughout the state.
In the free world, Cristina was a warm outgoing person always optimistic and hopeful.. Now, she found himself in a world she had never encountered, having had no previous bouts with the law, no juvenile arrests, never setting foot in a county jail, now she is in prison for the first time sentenced for a crime she says he is innocent of.
Cristina grew up between two countries, America and Brazil, born in Los Angeles in 1960 and raised with his siblings by a single parent, a happy child. But his mother died when he was 9 and he was sent to live with his father. Everything changed when his grandfather started to molest him. He went to his father telling him what grandpa was doing but as is often the case, his father would not believe him. So he ran away with the help of an older friend who did believe him, all the way to Brazil where he had family. He stayed with his aunt and enrolled in school for the deaf, putting the past behind him.
But he was haunted by what his grandfather had done; he blamed himself for the abuse and began to question his own sexuality. He did not feel comfortable wearing boys’ clothes but did not want to accept the fact he was gay either. He played the role of a macho man, always seeking out girls and things that made him appear masculine. Eventually he met a girl and they got married. But then he came to realize that he was more woman than the woman he was married to. Now trapped in a loveless marriage, fighting all the time, 17 years of torment, he decided to call it quits.
In search of himself and happiness, he returned to the u.s. at the age of 35 and settled in Bakersfield CA. Still not all that comfortable in the skin he was in, he did finally accept that he was gay. He knew he was attracted to men but his only frame of reference was what his grandpa had done to him. But Cristina did find her calling: doing advocacy work for the two communities she is a member of.
When Cristina found out that she was being transferred to San Quentin, she decided to teach other deaf prisoners. Then the COVID 19 outbreak hit after CDRC policy makers decided to bring in 121 prisoners from Chino State without proper screening. Before their arrival, San Quentin had no confirmed cases of the virus and no one was sick. Shortly after their arrival, several started showing symptoms but it was too late. The virus was here, staff and prisoners alike were infected. San Quentin now leads the country in confirmed prisoner infections and deaths due only to the policy makers making bad decisions.
Cristina now has another obstacle to overcome. She is in the high risk group, over 50 years old. She can only study while being kept in her cell 24 hours per day, only let out every 3 days to shower. I hope she can get through this and onto a future of doing advocate work for those who do not have a voice. Alfred King, #C12880. San Quentin/N Block/5-N-63, San Quentin CA 94974
Shorts From Inside
Thanks so much for the last issue!!! This place is still semi-locked down due to the COVID problem; blocks or pods on total quarantine, block or yard out, showers once every three days etc. I wish all of you a safe, health celebration of whatever deity (ies) you may believe in! CT Jones, Houtzdale PA
I highly appreciate receiving and reading the “UltraViolet” newsletter. Your actions help to allow some of us to be our own true selves and for others to see a different point of view on Life. R Neyens, Anamosa IA
This is in response to the letter published in the September 2020 issue of UltraViolet: the letter complaining about FCI Petersburg destroying photos, letters, cards etc after issuing inmates copies. What needs to happen is that they need to file admin remedies (yes, go all the way to Washington DC with a BP-11), and file tort claims every time the staff do it because all the afore mentioned items are considered personal property by the BOP and therefore it is destruction by the facility of an inmate’s personal property by staff negligence. Especially of personal photos, there is case law showing $100 per photo in damages. TH Cramer Edgefield SC
LAGAI Family, first let me say how overjoyed I was to receive September’s issue of UltraViolet. It made me happy to see that I was still on the mailing list. Please continue to be safe while fighting for the Family. COVID-19 is all there is to life these days, it seems. My facility’s woes are nothing compared to say, San Quentin’s outbreak. That said, Oklahoma DOC’s response has been mostly to mount a weak defense against litigation, rather than to actually help anyone. My facility, specifically, has tested. Our unit came up over 60% positive and their solution was to cut our unit in half, moving the positives to the other side of unlockable fire doors. Enforcement of movement restrictions is paltry and consequences for violation ‘quarantine’ are non-existent. Luckily, and no thanks to staff efforts, nobody has died here. And that’s enough of that. All my love, A Bennett, Hominy OK
Hey everybody. This is Victoria writing from death row in Ohio. I just wanted to give some hope and encouragement to all my T.G. brothers and sisters reading this, doing time. After a decade long battle in 2 different state prison systems, I have officially been approved for women’s undergarments, an electric razor and hormone replacement therapy. It’s not come easy or without sacrifice. But it came. So if transitioning is priority in life for you, don’t ever give up on your right to be who you are. I love all of ya’all. From my cell to yours, V Drain, Youngstown OH
Thank you for the last two great fabulous issues of UV, winter and fall 2020. The front page article is always both hilarious and infuriating. Congrats to our beautiful Lisa Strawn – spread you wings girl! Chaya and Deni, I love The Mocha Column! Great job and woof woof! The shorts from Inside are always inspiring and lovely while often heart wrenching. I read them and become emboldened, develop crushes, fall in love and lust and yearn to be the writers’ friend. I would love it if you’d publish my letter in the Shorts from Inside column. Adrien Espinoza #T597560, Lower Buckeye jail, 3250 W Lower Buckeye Rd. Phoenix AZ 85009 (postcards only)
I saw a post in the last [UV] issue from a JH in Mineral Point MO asking for direction for reentry resources … I can help. I was 16 when I was incarcerated, I’m 41 now and I am an out transwoman. I am due to see the parole board in the next few months. Our situations are very similar and I can tell you there are many good people willing to help with everything you expressed concern about. The Start Here section of the Learning Center lists all kinds of reentry resources. Look up the Release to Rent Resource for housing, employment etc. Other resources like medical, mental health and even clothing are listed. Or, just find me and I’ll give you more info. Thank you again LAGAI family. Jessica Hicklin #527993, Potosi C.C./HU5A-10, 11593 State Highway O, Mineral Point MO 63660
I am an older gentleman who dins himself in prison once again. I would like to stay up on what’s happening in the Lesbian and Gay community. I always wanted to get into activism, but was too afraid that someone would find me out and I was doing good just to make it through each day. I thank you and all your associates who have lent a voice to those of us who for one reason or another, back in the old days (1960s and 70s) had to remain silent. S Krush, Nicholls GA
I was recently handed a copy of UltraViolet (Fall 2020) and fell in love with it. To KJ in Petersburg VA, I just left there in December. I feel for you. That place is going to hell with the new administration. Petersburg is the only place that I’ve been that had Diversity Day. Tell all the transg girls that Bree said hello. B Leonard, Charleston MO
Dearest UltraViolet family, I regret that this letter brings sad tidings. We have lost a transbrother. Patric Loeza, 26, was found on June 7th stabbed to death in the Los Angeles area. The police say his body may have been there for about 2 weeks. They don’t believe he was sexually assaulted. Patric was a member of the Gender and Sexual Minority Advocacy and Support Network and will be sorely missed. Please, if anyone you know or yourself, has experienced any type of abuse, bullying or shaming due to your gender preference or sexual orientation, report it immediately. If nothing is said, then nothing can be done. You are not alone, there are many of us out there that have been through the same. A message of resistance against [those] who want us to conform to heteronormativity. Thank you all for listening to me rant and rave, I wish all of you safe days and peaceful nights. Elaine Willow Rose Moone, Pine Bluff AR
I am a huge supporter of all things LGBTQ+ and all things anarchist. I have been searching for other organizations like yours that support and inform/educate our community, especially those of us in prison, about the goings on in the world. The only other good one I found, thus far, is Black and Pink. I previously received the Under Lock and Key newsletter from Maoist International Ministries. They were informative but I have not heard from there in a few years despite 3 letters having been sent. JA Griffin, Dayton TX
Hello family. I call you all family ‘cause we are in the same boat. I’m 52, Transgender and struggling with trying to get my GD diagnosis. It has been a long 8 years and I’m still trying. If it was not for newsletters like this one [UV] and others like Black and Pink I would have not had the courage to come out. For RW in San Diego CA: I too am doing a life sentence and I know all too well, it’s a struggle to find friends. When you’re locked up, you become a disease, not COVID LOL! And the friends you make in prison become family. Stay safe during this crisis, fight for safety from guards not wearing masks. KD Tomlinson #1218339, JHCC, 8200 No More Victims Rd. Jefferson City MO 65101
Thank you so much for your insightful publication. I am grateful for all your hard work and I am happy to be a subscriber. Your magazine re-invigorates me and makes me that much happier to accept who I am, “what” I am and who I choose to be. Reading other prisoner stories gives me more hope and leaves me more appreciative for this life. I have been ‘alone’ these 4 years. I have literally had no emotional or physical support from others. My family distanced themselves for the time being. (I’m the only ‘criminal’ in the family – always been the ‘black sheep’. Maybe that’s why I’ve made some poor choices?) I’ve tried Pen Pal services but this prison does not allow them. Ridiculous. Publications such as yours have helped me a lot through these difficult times. G Schwegel, Deer Lodge MT
We here at the FCC Petersburg VA have now cases at the MED [unit]. We didn’t until the LOW had 75+ a month ago, but 3 weeks ago, our MED had cases (# unknown) in our Drug Program unit. We locked down for 13 days in September. [Other units are] … Round Robin pick up of meals, 3x/week recreation. Not for the Drug Program, still in Lockdown. All for precautionary reasons, per staff explanation. Be safe at your place. WE’RE IN THIS TOGETHER. K Brody, Petersburg VA
I received the latest issue. So much in there, so much love, inspiration, hope, power and passion. I could describe so much within all these words and stories. And yet, I know there is a lot missing still. It’s nobody’s fault though. You can’t tell or cover stories that you don’t know. I feel like I was missing for so many years and in everything that I read I silently search for some printed thought that resembles my life, my invisible roots, some kind of care or acknowledgement of the missing or invisible as I once was. Do any of you remember that period of your life when you were so scared of being hurt for your truth that you only lived in your mind? My actions in childhood hardwired fears within me that hijacked my life and robbed me of precious moments that every transperson holds dear. The most wholesome path I’ve found is to be me. Be known, smart, touched, loved, loving and most importantly, in the present. Our presence can help our youth to be present and save life times of hurt. If any of you still hurt from the past, try being in the present … and at all possible, be seen, not alone. CJ Forrister, Marianna AR
Thank you so much for putting out a newsletter. This is a Big thing for me because it is in a way the only form of communication I receive. See, I have no friends and no family, I don’t even have a TV and I don’t talk to the other inmates. I read to pass the time. However, I’m particular about what I read. UltraViolet has some compelling articles. I really enjoyed Deeg’s work about the Pandemic and was alarmed to learn the percentage of COVID deaths on Death Row … her intuition seems spot on regarding Foul Play and I have to admire one who trusts their intuition. And Kate’s work about the Defund the Police is crucial for all of us and I’m glad it’s being addresses in print. The $ cops get makes me want to vomit, anyway I won’t go into length here because my ink is in short supply, your time is precious and it’s not necessary because we all know already. I send my love. J Davall, Calipatria CA
Please take me off your UltraViolet mailing list. Our prison library will copy all the newsletters off the Internet for me and others. So plese save the postage for someone who needs it. Thank you for your love and kindness and help. R Janssen, Clallam Bay WA
May this letter get to you Corona-free. I do not have Corona – yet, and I’m thankful that my efforts show for it. I am alsothankful for the existence of the goddess “LAGAI” and wish for a subscription, please. A Aquirre, Ione CA
My name is “Divine K Sexton”, a 51 year old Pan Sexual POC GNC/GF poet/author/activist. I am currently serving the final year in NC. As you may well imagine, being anything besides a white male hetero in prison in the Southern Baptist Bible Belt is a living HELL! Shout-out to my sister Ashlee Inscoe, an Intersex woman; having served time there also and experienced first-hand how members of the LGBTQIA+ community are treated – you are definitely in my prayers, hopes and thoughts little sister. Thank you UltraViolet for all your advocacy and being a shing light in a sometimes stormy sky. W Craig Jr. N Wilkesboro NC
I am in a state that discriminates against trans women, especially in the prison system. They keep them locked up and try to ruin them psychologically and emotionally. I’m not sure how they do it in other states and prisons but my message is to all the beautiful transwomen that are being mistreated by the system and by life: you are not alone. There are men, such as myself, that root for you every day. Men who love transwomen and no one else. We are here for you. If you are seeking a friend for comfort, to grow bonds and friendships or more, hit me up. Robert Conyers #1903524, EA Unit, 2665 Prison Rd 1, Lovelady TX 75851
Corona Virus in Prison
Prisoners are treated like zoo animals, perhaps worse. The gross inconsistencies of fair treatment of inmates is abysmal. When we are able to see TV news or talk shows – many of us, especially those who are indigent have no TVs or radios nor magazine subscriptions – we can observe how “free” people are allowed to live in the world of Corona. INMATES LIVE IN THEIR BUILDINGS AS A COMMUNITY AS A FAMILY LIVES IN THEIR HOME. Corona virus is brought into prisons by employees (cops and medical personnel) from the outside to infect us!! We inmates did not have COVID and do not infect others.
Inmates are demanded to wear masks and “social distance” but prison employees are not. Prison employees do NOT social distance, often hugging each other and being within inches of each other. Often prison employees do NOT wear masks. For any excuse, inmates have their limited free time taken from them at the drop of a hat. So, if inmates become infected it is by prison employees. It is disheartening to be unfairly treated as pariahs. But we inmates are continuously treated thus.The prison employees, like Trump, are acting as if they are immune to disease and superior as humans to inmates, whom they believe to be garbage and treat in that manner.
All humans, by virtue as being born, deserve respect and love. As it says in George Orwells’s Animal Farm, “Everyone is equal, but some are more equal than others.” Mike Phillips #BI4781, CHCF/C3B-123, PO Box 32200, Stockton CA 95213
Looking for Submissions
California Prison Focus is looking for articles and artwork by prisoners; reports, stories, opinion pieces. poetry, book reports, and cartoons. Artwork is especially welcome. Their newspaper is published 4/year and costs $20 for non-prisoners, $8 for prisoners and is free for anyone in SHU or solitary confinement in California. From their statement, “…submissions are not guaranteed to be published and they will not be returned. We always appreciate, but generally cannot respond to individual submissions.” Send submissions to California Prison Focus, Editor, 4408 Market St. Ste A, Oakland CA 94608. Donations are always welcome and needed: www.prisons.org or the address above.
On October 12, Indigenous People’s Day, Northern California’s Mission San Rafael Arcángel was the site of a protest where activists toppled a statue of Junípero Serra— known for his role in the Native genocide and colonization of California. Five activists were charged with felony vandalism in the wake of a demonstration led by the Coast Miwok tribe.
Twenty-one Spanish missions stand perched and protected across the state of California. The first nine of the missions were founded by Roman Catholic Spanish Saint Junípero Serra. To many devout Catholics, and even to some of the historically romanticizing non-Catholics, these Spanish missions and erected statues of founders like Serra symbolize the goal of religious expansion at the hands of the Catholic church.
However, what is hidden underneath are the gruesome and violent histories behind these institutions, as well as the architects of the violence that made it all possible.
In 1769, explorer Gaspar de Portolá and Franciscan missionary Junípero Serra took on California to establish “mission communities.” The mission of San Diego was the first of nine missions established during Serra’s lifetime. It was at these missions where Indigenous people, who were native to the stolen land that we now know as the state of California, were proselytized and forcibly converted to Christianity. Once taken into these missions, they were not permitted to leave. Children were forced to attend the schools in the Mission communities, and adults coerced to work in the fields. Missionaries would terrorize the Indigenous people with physical punishments including whippings, shackles, stocks, barbed lashings, solitary confinement, mutilation, branding, and execution. Spanish missionaries violently prevented the use of Native languages and the use of Indigenous traditions and ceremonies. These missions and monuments of Spanish missionaries such as Saint Junípero Serra glamorize a form of genocide that continues to be revered and pedestaled by both the Westernization and predominantly Roman Catholic & Christian idealists.
Activists have every right to remove this statue. Serra was an instrument of genocide., and the Marin County District Attorney’s choice to charge the activists with felonies puts them again on the wrong side of history. The toppling of this statue takes place in the context of broad calls to remove monuments to racist violence and colonization. Monuments of Serra were toppled in San Francisco and Los Angeles in June 2020. We stand with the activists in support of the removal of this statue. We call for District Attorney Lori Frugali to drop the charges against the Indigenous People’s Day 5.
Ways you can support the Indigenous People’s Day 5:
– Share and Donate to the Fundrazr dedicated to the Indigenous People’s Day 5 Defense
– Share and Sign the change.org petition to drop the charges against the Indigenous People’s Day 5