Praxis: How to Write to Political Prisoners & Why it’s Important

Praxis: How to Write to  Political Prisoners & Why it’s Important

[Spooky hip-hop track] Hello there, I’m Caltrops. The open road
still softly calls, like a nearly forgotten Jeep commercial from childhood. Tonight I’d like to remind everyone that political prisoners and prisoners of war, as many correctly frame it, remain our comrades. And hey, many political prisoners have websites. And those websites usually have ways to donate, including merch you can buy. All well and
good given that even people who oppose capitalism have to live under it. But no comrade is
brand, or an objects of admiration or contemplation. And they are most certainly not charities.
No matter the scope of their deeds they are people. Often times, given the conditions of prison, lonely people. In fact, given the conditions of the outside
world you too are probably
lonely. Well great! You should write to a letter to a comrade in prison! The contact information
will be on their website assuming they have one. The Anarchist Black Cross and the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee also have websites. Where you can get information on comrades in prison. Including both the prison address and their prisoner ID code First you need to pick a comrade. Pick anyone. Or, pick someone you share a particular affinity with. They may or may not write back. They may even have restrictions on how many letters they can send out. But
if you enter a dialogue, don’t keep them waiting. I once wrote to Eddie Africa, and
he wrote back, and I’m not sure if he expected a follow-up, but I haven’t wrote back since
then. And this was a while ago. Fortunately he’s out of prison, now. And has been since June 2019. On that note, write your return address on
the letter itself. Envelopes may not always get to the proper recipient. And some prisons don’t like receiving letters from PO boxes. Honestly, prisons are a maze of regulations and different prisons have different rules for receiving mail. But do not despair! The rules for writing to a prisoner are still less restrictive than say, for a book report in middle school. Non-gel black or blue pen on 8×11 notebook paper is good! Some erasable pens fade when exposed to heat, so keep that in mind. No glitter, no marker, no colored pencils or any of that sort unless you know it’s okay. And for you trots outs there, no newspaper clippings. If you write multiple pages, number them; so that none go missed, and that the order clear. If you and some other comrades have found each other, get them to sign the letter, too. Possibly using pen names. As for what to write, create a poem, a short story, whatever you like. But please write a little about yourself, and how you’ve
come to learn of your comrade. Make sure they know that you are like-minded but don’t, use any signs or symbols that a slack-jawed bureaucrat might interpret as a gang sign. Gang signs are often forbidden in prison walls. Keep it personal, keep it spirited. Use details in
your descriptions of the outside world. According to New York Anarchist Black Cross, details
are a frequent request. Our comrades are complex and emotional human beings. Related to this, don’t fall into hero worship.
This may implicate the person you are writing to as a so called leader. Y’know, just don’t write anything you
wouldn’t want a cop to see. This a friendly correspondence under scrutiny of the enemy.
And especially watch what you say if they are awaiting trial. Don’t mention any alleged crimes. The State is not an honest actor But like… Obviously you know that. The State’s history of fabricating so called crimes is not esoteric knowledge Even liberals know that. Three notable cases, in the so called United States Are that of Leonard Peltier, The Haymarket Martyrs, and the The Move 9. But as the State makes no distinction, neither should we. Any comrade in prison must have been doing an effective job And we can learn a lot from them. Those of us isolated from broader movements,
who may have been radicalized by memes, or whatever, and don’t feel like they have
good prospects for making authentic connections with like minded people, may find fulfillment,
satisfaction and a sense of being part of a greater project, in making the moment for
some of the most abused and courageous among us. [shuffling around] I understand that it can be scary, but, it’s just an-another person jus-jus… just relax. I’m writing to Marius Mason Imprisoned for his environmentalist work. Which may or may not have involved arson. Something I would never support outside of Minecraft>;)

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About the Author: Sam Caldwell


  1. Thanks! Never thought of writing to our fellow comrades as something that can help us connect to the larger movement, but can definitely see why you’d say so!

    And I, too, do not support arson outside of Minecraft

  2. Great video, Caltrops.
    I will be looking into resources to find political prisoners that I can write to. I was first exposed to the idea from Thought Slime's video on Chelsea. Now it's hard to find a way to narrow it down, which is… pretty sad of its own right! Given I know various languages hopefully I can spread out the love internationally a little (I'm not from the US, however).

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