Political Prisoners: Lessons for Occupationists … and Everyone Else

Political Prisoners: Lessons for Occupationists … and Everyone Else


by Jared Ball, Black Agenda Report

There are at least three reasons for aggressively including the politically incarcerated: 1) Their experience, 2) their analysis and 3) the standard they establish for the rest of us. Their experience as conscious actors for liberation, as activists, journalists and soldiers needs to be studied and incorporated by the emerging campaigners in and out of these occupations. Their analyses having gone through decades of political struggle can only help shape the evolving activities here and around the world. And as long as they remain locked up political prisoners serve as permanent reminders of an absence of real change. Especially now as the current president worsens the previously set precedent ofdenying civil liberties and constitutional rights and as more and more new initiates to social movement occupy political activity we need to encourage a renewed focus on the politically incarcerated because we are likely to see those ranks increase.

To the first point, political prisoners have tremendous reservoirs of knowledge regarding struggle with the state. They have decades worth of time to reflect on their successes and failures, on what did and did not work and why. Political prisoners have as much experience with the legal system, the police, the entire apparatus of surveillance and incarceration, all of which is essential knowledge for those now entering political activism for the first time. Mumia has himself penned a number of books, including a recent one dealing particularly withjailhouse lawyering, but simply studying the legal case of any political prisoner becomes a painful and detailed lesson in the function of “law.”

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