A Letter to a Dear Friend and Comrade, arrested December 16, 2011, for being a black man and political dissident in Oakland.
I think about you every day. Nearly every day for a year, I’ve written to you. It may seem odd then to admit, there is so much I wish to tell you, but when I sit down to write, I struggle. Often, I am unable to finish my letters. Today, is no different.
Every day, there is something that makes me think of you, things I cannot wait to tell you about.
But, at some point while I’m writing, I hit a wall. It’s not writer’s block. It’s more like an emotional wall. I often end up censoring myself, not out of concern that the state will read and censor our letters, but because every time I sit down to write to you, it’s a battle not to be overcome with the sea of accompanying emotions - the pang of sadness and rage regarding your current circumstances and the injustice of it all. But, I don’t want that to be what I send you. I don’t want that to overshadow my love for you and the joy and happiness you have brought into my life. Yet, not writing from the heart seems disingenuous and, no matter how painful, I would never want to withhold the truth from you.
So, instead of sending you these daily letters that end awkwardly or abruptly, I got into the habit of writing my journal entries to you. Somehow, writing to you that way seems less daunting. Do you know that I have a stack of letters to you that I’ve yet to send? The letters I ultimately do send to you, like this one, are pieced together from that journal.
Speaking of honesty, I lied earlier. Today is different.
I don’t know if you’re even aware of the date or its significance. But, maybe because of that, I can’t seem to stop writing. What little time I’ve spent in jail and my letters exchanged with you and other inmates has informed me that prison blurs time. A year ago today was when OPD ripped you away from us. They have since transferred you hundreds of miles away to serve out the remainder of your sentence, yet today I feel closer to you than ever before.
All week, even as I’ve been sick and in and out of sleep, I couldn’t stop thinking about you. Even in my dreams, you appeared.
So, today, I write to you from the bench where I last saw you as a free man.
Today is also different because I’m not just writing to you. I want the police and city council members responsible for your unlawful arrest to know that we have not forgiven nor forgotten their actions. I am writing to keep my promise to you that others hear of your story and hopefully feel moved to do something… as you said, not just for you…but for everyone else like you who is suffering at the hands of this corrupt police department and the treacherous prison industrial machine.
More than anything, I want you to know that you are not forgotten. You are not alone.
I love you.
We only knew each other for a few short months before OPD ripped you away from us, but in that time, we placed our lives in each other’s hands and forged a trust that I’ve shared with few in my lifetime. The arc of our relationship might baffle some. After all, much of society would have it that we would never speak much less acknowledge each other. And, that likely would have been the case had it not been for that beautiful community that we gave birth to in front of City Hall. Like so many, last fall brought us together and forged a relationship more meaningful than any words I might try to use to describe it.
That night when you offered me your blanket - one of the few material possessions you had left in this world after having been attacked and robbed repeatedly by OPD - I knew you were also offering me your heart. I hope you know that when you wrapped that blanket around me, I pulled that blanket close to me and held it next to my heart in more ways than one. I still do.
I know you have your own theory as to why we were brought into each other’s lives. Whatever the reason, call it fate, divine intervention, or what have you, I am grateful.
More than anyone I’ve met, you’ve taught me about “solidarity,” a word that usually makes me cringe whenever I hear others speaking of it or attempting to deconstruct it…and about being a “comrade” despite so many tossing that word around so haphazardly. As you have told me, our happiness and survival have been bound up in each others. I am still struggling to find the words to express how much you have changed my life for the better, how you’ve challenged me in such beautiful, wonderful ways, how you have stretched my heart…and how it’s killing me to see what the system seems determined to do to you.With the significance of today’s date and the new year just around the corner, I find myself reflecting on all that’s transpired since last December. I remember the first time I got to visit you a few weeks after they took you into custody. You told me how floored you were that anyone was even showing up to court for your hearings, much less writing or visiting. That morning, when the guards came to wake you and said you had visitors, you confided to me that you were shocked and asked, “What’s a visitor?” I fought so hard to hold back the tears then and even more so every time I reflect on that moment.
Despite having spent upwards of half of your life in prison, you told me that you’d never experienced this kind of support. As if I wasn’t already in tears, Kali, you blew me away with what you said next and what you’ve continued to remind me anytime we write or whenever I can come visit. “Don’t make this about me. I’m OK. I’ve survived all of this before. I appreciate this, but this is about everyone else who’s suffering like me… This has to be about everyone else, if it’s going to mean anything at all.”
This was before we’d even launched an all out campaign to put pressure on the DA and Santa Rita for denying you your meds. For all you knew, you were going to be charged with a 3rd strike and likely facing 25+ to life. As it became clear that with continued pressure, they likely wouldn’t charge you with a third strike, hope set in and that light at the end of the tunnel made things harder. I remember how wonderful and yet utterly painful our visits were then. I could see it in your eyes even when you hadn’t yet found the words to express how this weighed on your heart.When you heard of our mass arrests on J28, I remember our pained conversations as you spoke about that day with excitement and frustration. We recalled the beauty of the fall and the burgeoning community down at OGP as well as all those subsequent cold winter nights together out at OGP, wondering where the hundreds and thousands had gone.But with J28, suddenly, you could picture us all spilling out of the plaza and into the streets.You couldn’t wait to get out then and said as much. I remember joking that the news coverage of us and our 400+ arrests was one of the best messages we could send to you. You were so animated when we talked about it, but I knew it also pained you not to be there with us on the “front lines.” I reminded you then that you were very much on the front lines and that inside or out, we would remain in this fight together.But you finally said what your eyes had been telling me. You confided that anything less than 5 years and you’d agree to almost any deal they wanted, even though we all knew in our hearts that you should never have been locked up to begin with. It was killing you not to be with us, to be kept in isolation. I had to cut you off. I knew they were recording our conversation, but really, it just hurt too much to hear you say this. After all, you’d have been released on your own recognizance and a free man if the courts hadn’t discriminated against you for being houseless! They weren’t willing to see or understand that you are loved and have a community and a home with all of us.But you were arrested on bogus charges for being black and kept in custody because, on top of that, you were a political dissident.They didn’t want to acknowledge the beautiful person you are but were hellbent on making an example of you and punishing you for a past you had already served time for and from which you were working to break free.And, the truth is, what they were and are doing to you got to me. Our letters and conversations with each other mean so much. I treasure them, but they break my heart over and over.
I trust my heart and my life with you and I know that I don’t have to say it, but I will fight with/for you for as long as I’ve got any fight left in me.
I hope that every day, as I strive to keep my promises to you, you know that you continue to be a source of strength and inspiration for me.
In love and in struggle,
This is a rally about Justice for Alan Blueford who was murdered by the Oakland Police on May 6th. The Blueford family/Justice for Alan Blueford coalition is calling for the rally. It will be in front of City Hall at Oscar Grant Plaza (14th & Broadway). At least one city council member said that they would do anything to help get justice. The City Council has cancelled all meetings until September. We’re issuing subpoenas to all of the city council members to explain why they haven’t demanded the release of the police report on the murder of Alan Blueford, and why they are continuing to pay and protect the officer who murdered Alan, instead of demanding that he be fired and tried for murder; and holding those responsible accountable
***** INVITE YOUR FRIENDS AND RSVP VIA FACEBOOK HERE *****
Some background on Alan’s murder:
Just after midnight on Saturday May 6th, Alan Blueford and two of his friends were waiting for some girls to pick them up on 90th Ave., in East Oakland, after the Floyd Mayweather fight. Not long after Alan had phoned his parents to check-in with them, a car slowly pulled up to them with its lights off. Alan ran. One officer gave chase. A few blocks later Alan was shot by OPD officer Miguel Masso. Masso also shot himself in the foot. Over a dozen witnesses all said that Alan had no weapon and posed no threat to the officer.
Why did the police approach Alan and his friends with their lights off? Why did they give chase when Alan had committed no crime and posed no threat to the officer? Why was Alan shot three times when he had no weapon? How did a trained officer shoot himself in the foot? From the witnesses’ statements, why was Alan not given emergency CPR by OPD? Why did the OPD change their story to the family several times in the days after the shooting? Why did they refused to release the coroner’s report, despite the fact that it was complete for weeks? Why does the family need to get a court order to get the photos, which should have been a part of the coroners report?
The family has gotten nothing but lies, distortions and stalling from the OPD the DA and the coroner.The Blueford family and the Justice 4 Alan Blueford Coalition are demanding:
• Officer Miguel Masso be fired and charged with Alan’s murder.
• OPD Chief Howard Jordan be held accountable for lying to the Blueford family.
• An end to stop-and-frisk and other police practices of racial profiling.
• The repeal of the Police Officers’ Bill of Rights, that shields violent cops from prosecution and keeps them on the street.
On Monday, July 23rd Barack Obama will be hosting a fundraiser at the Fox Theater starting at 4:00pm in Oakland for his 2012 presidential campaign. The commander-in-chief of the most powerful imperial military force in human history and noble peace prize laureate, has the audacity to come into our impoverished community facing school closures, unemployment and other austerity, in an attempt to absorb funds and garner support for his continued presidency of unjust, illegal and immoral wars and occupations abroad.
Afghans for Peace and SF Bay Iraq Veterans Against the War are calling for an antiwar contingent and action against the President’s Oakland fundraiser. Join us in calling for an end to Obama’s wars abroad and continued drone targeted assassinations. We will also call for the closure of Guantanamo Bay, an end to torture, freedom for army whistle-blower Bradley Manning and we will protest against an endless host of other injustices.
We will meet at Oscar Grant plaza, 14th and Broadway, on Monday July 23rd at 3:30pm for a rally and then we will march on the Fox Theater.
We call on all local antiwar groups and allies to endorse and participate in this action. Please forward, spread the word and mobilize members and supporters of your organizations. Let’s make a powerful statement for peace on Monday!
For more info, visit: http://bit.ly/UnWelcomeObama
OPD is summoning witnesses via letter; What to do if you recieve one.
Attention J28 arrestees:
OPD has been sending people letters telling them that they may be a
witness to criminal activity and asking them to come in. It appears that
these letters are being sent to people who were arrested on January 28th
but there may be more we aren’t aware of.
It is our understanding that these letters are NOT legally binding
summons. As always, we strongly urge you to exercise your right to remain
silent, and to NOT speak with the police. This includes Internal Affairs
(IA). Anything you say to IA will go directly to the police who will be
indicting you or your comrades. Do not be fooled! If you believe you have
information about police misconduct, take it to the NLG. No one except
movement lawyers should be discussing _anything_ with any police agent.
If you receive one of these letters, please call the National Lawyers
Guild at 415-285-1011 (leave a message) and contact anti-repression at
Received a letter from our beloved Kali this week, as he still remains in Santa Rita Jail. He included the following poem, which I’ve transcribed below, to share with all.
FREE KALI, FREE TRUTH, FREE ALL OUR POLITICAL PRISONERS!
“Letter to Self”
Sincerely at this point in my life I feel like an outsider looking in. The most high speaks to me through His many angels in the form of strangers. At this point learning so much in my life, for so so long what I conceived to matter most, doesn’t matter much at all.
Chasing currency, a high. That frame of mind has become so irrelevant to the point it’s like I have come out of a storm, my sword being forged, for all my life’s works being tried by the fire. Fresh scratches upon my helmet and dents in my armor let me know I’m still at war. Resistance of the struggle sparks my adrenaline flow.
Through much adversity the enemy seeks to isolate me and conquer. But through it all some kind of way we stand tall. Bare witness to the magnificent one. Based on its the essence of the source within which keeps us in this man’s war undefeated.
It’s never over, we fight to the death. Unleash this fierce anger. Become one with the nature of the beast. Their fire met with flames the true cause of the inferno. For this life’s struggle we burn it down. No telling how far we might go.
Absolutely no time outs. We funk to the tombs. At this point real live lycans hear us bark at the full moon. Go ahead let’s embrace the pain that’s an adversary part of life. What helps me stay in this struggle is being familiar with the strife.
Who knows the destination of my destiny. We have been to hell and back. Look into the eyes of the deceiver and witness each and every attack. My next move is “check mate,” make him fade to black.
See it’s all on nothing only one life to live. We go and go hard, give all I have to give. I have said our warriors prayer, so absolutely no fear. Feel the breeze of my angels wings as they draw so close and near.
They are ever present with every beat of my heart our ultimate is God he’s there from the start.
If you want to send Kali a letter of support, you can mail him at:
Santa Rita Jail
5325 Broder Blvd.
Dublin, CA 94568
Police harass a man trying to stay warm with a sleeping bag. Wrapping yourself in a sleeping bag at night in public another novel crime added to the ever-expanding list.