Many of us write those letters at the year’s end that tell our peeps the goings on of the last 365. I was never much of a letter writer. This year I have something to share. It’s a letter, not from me, but from one of the most inspiring individuals I have ever had the pleasure to share time with.
In his 1963 letter from a Birmingham Jail, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. reminds us to be “…cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states.” He continues, “I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”
We too can not sit idly by in Baltimore, or Washington, or San Francisco, or New York, or Little Rock, when innocent people carry the weight of our supposed freedom from the cells that shelter the shame of our privilege. It is with this claim of my own weight of responsibility that I bring you Marshall “Eddie” Conway’s plea for support and restitution. May this be the one that sets him free to live the remainder of his life in the community in which he belongs.
Via Dominique Stevenson
December 28, 2011
From a Prison in Jessup Maryland
Revolutionary Greetings, to all my family, friends, and supporters. The last few months have been a very busy time for me. I am very happy to report that some progress has been made in several areas. The best news to date is the progress with my parole situation. Since my last update letter, my lawyer filed a request for a parole hearing for me. I had the hearing on November 30, 2011. I met with two commissioners and they decided to advance my case to the next level of the parole process for persons with life sentences. That level requires a psychological evaluation, which means that sometime in the near future I will be transferred to another institution for a three month evaluation. This whole process is called a Risk Assessment, and once this level is completed the case goes before the full body of the parole commission. There are ten commissioners and a majority vote is required before the case can be sent to the governor who has the final right to approve or deny.
Thanks to all of you who wrote support letters or sent cards. One of the key reasons for moving my case forward was the enormous amount of community support reflected by those letters and cards. You all really helped, thank you once again. For those who did not know that this process was underway, it happened fast, but there is still time for you to write. The case will go before the full commission and the members will once again read the letters of support. So please continue to send letters requesting parole to:
Mr. David Bloomberg
6776 Reisterstown Rd.
Baltimore, MD. 21215
My lawyer, Phillip Dantes and his legal team has committed to filing my case in court by the end of this year 2011. As of this writing, that schedule is still being honored. We are looking forward to being in court sometime in 2012. Once we have a date, I will make you all aware via facebook and an update letter. We will be organizing a fundraiser in the spring to help with legal and court costs.
Since my last letter I have had the opportunity to speak at a number of events. I spoke with students and activist at University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, University of California at Riverside, and Students Against Mass Incarceration at Howard University. I also spoke at several community events and book readings of Marshall Law The Life and Times of a Baltimore Panther: the Urban Network in Detroit, MI., Internationalist Books in Chapel Hill, N.C., and readings in Chicago, Ill., and in Baltimore, MD. Some of these events also included large groups form Occupy Riverside, CA. and Occupy Chicago, plus students from University of North Carolina. In October I participated in a conference of community leaders and activists like Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle organized by Dylan Rodriguez with the American Studies Association; their annual meeting was held in Baltimore. I also had the opportunity to meet and speak with National Black United Front members who visited me and offered some encouragement for the survival of our community.
The work we are doing with the Friend of a Friend (FOF) mentoring organization is going very well. The organization has developed so many positive community leaders and mentors that I can no longer keep up with all the new people around the system and out in the community; that is a good thing and I am happy with both the group’s growth and direction. The (FOF) prison project is expanding into another prison- with one more wanting the program; it is currently in five Maryland prisons.
I will never be able to thank the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) for taking on this task and helping us save hundreds of lives and put many positive activists back into the community. We are now organizing our families outside with the support of a local church, Pleasant Hope Baptist Church and Pastor Heber Brown. Members of a Friend of a Friend are working with a local school to help provide guidance to youth; they are starting a Freedom School in 2012, and are also speaking at colleges in the region.
Our Neutral Grounds project has opened up a snack and beverage stand to demonstrate our concept of “Do for Self”. Since unemployment is highest among people of African descent and even higher among former prisoners we have to think of ways to employ ourselves, and create our own economic opportunity. My family is okay in general. However, I recently lost a brother-in-law; he was married to my sister for thirty-nine years. Many of the family are planning a large holiday dinner and I plan to call in to the gathering. I am still struggling with high blood pressure, but I am exercising and trying to eat right, but prison food only allows so much right eating.
One thing I wish I could do better is write everyone as soon as the mail comes in, it’s just not possible, but I greatly appreciate every letter – thank you all. I am looking forward to the coming year, and hope to see positive changes in the world. 2012 is an important year for our community and as the economic picture continues to change and capitalism collapses, food and basic needs will be in greater demand for the most vulnerable people in our communities. We need to learn and teach everyone how to grow our own food in local city gardens, and meet our needs collectively. Block by block – help rebuild the community- grew something to eat!
Peace and Blessings to you this New Year, and let us all make this a new day for freedom across the globe, as we begin here at home.