PYM-SD Solidarity Statement at Co-Sponsored Political Imprisonment, the Prison Industrial Complex and Radical Resistance Event

Featuring Freed Political Prisoner Sekou Abdullah Odinga, Johanna Fernandez and the SD33

The Palestinian Youth Movement stands in solidarity with all political prisoners. As a transnational movement, our political trajectory and growth is informed by our struggle for liberation as well as the local contexts that we organize in. In the US, the prison industrial complex and black imprisonment, profiling and targeting are main reference points for our sites of local struggle.  

We view the mass incarceration and political and social repression of black communities as something larger than a criminal process. We see this “process of criminalization” as a mechanism of social and political control of black populations and black imprisonment as political imprisonment. The black radical tradition, black power movement, black panther party and other fronts have been instrumental in resisting white supremacy and US hegemony historically and today. Each form of radical resistance is met with concentrated pushback in order to marginalize, weaken and pacify such resistance. We see this crystallize with the inception of COINTELPRO and infiltration and surveillance of the black population. This tactic of repression has since then surfaced to target multiple communities fighting for liberation including the US war on drugs and now terror.  

COINTELPRO is used in conjunction with rhetoric deeming a particular community as an enemy of state, thus justifying this surveillance and repression system to the US public. This rhetoric functions in complete disregard of the hundreds of years of history of the enslavement, dehumanization, and labor of black people that was and still is central to the foundation and sustenance of this country. This erasure of black history reinforces white supremacy, especially in the current climate where multiculturalism (or the “post-racial”) is an essential liberal value.  

We see our connection to black resistance and struggle as an inherent part of a process of liberation that requires transnationalism because liberation is not sustainable, or even possible, in isolation. Here in the US, we have seen a new rendition of COINTELPRO, in conjunction with new policies like the USA PATRIOT Act and material support regulations, which actively works to criminalize Arab, Muslim and South Asian communities. In addition, Palestine and Palestinians have been a central point of surveillance and have faced criminal charges for what should be deemed as having social, political and religious freedom.  

In Palestine, our political prisoner struggle is a key site of contestation in the power struggle for our liberation. Political imprisonment has been used to criminalize the most menial actions like throwing a stone at a tank to imprisoning the most important political leaders of different parties and groups in order to suppress political organizing and resistance. In addition, every day activity like standing in public space in groups is also criminalized, similar to policies like gang injunctions or stop-and-frisk here. Political imprisonment has also affected children as young as 12 years of age while detention has impacted children even younger. Additionally, police brutality and murder has plagued our people since the inception of the Zionist movement and its presence in Palestine.  

In more recent years we have seen the exchange of tactics and weapons for the concrete oppression of both of our communities between the US and the Zionist regime. The colonial logics of the US and Zionism are built on the premise of racialization. It is clear that the Prison Industrial Complex functions as a mechanism for the expansion of capitalism and profiting off of racialized bodies. It is with this lens that we can understand the mass incarceration of black communities as political and not criminal. It is from the depths of both of these contexts of mass imprisonment that we understand imprisonment as a political tool for suppressing radical politics and resistance. It is only through abolition and revolution, not reform, that we will be freed of this oppressive system and can build toward a new world. And it is our right, as oppressed peoples, to do so “by any means necessary,” in the words of Malcolm X.  

We, the Palestinian Youth Movement, stand in joint-struggle with the black community and other oppressed peoples, to honor and continue our resistance to state violence and colonial regimes of power. We will fight with you until liberation!

Event link:

Historic Break Down Borders 5K in San Diego Brings Community Together in Protest of Local and Transnational Violences

On Saturday, January 24th, 2015, the Palestinian Youth Movement – San Diego (PYM-SD) and Colectivo Zapatista (CZ) co-organized their 2nd Break Down Borders 5K along the U.S. side of the U.S.-Mexico Border. This 5K represented a form of demonstration, highlighting the violence and injustices that indigenous and oppressed communities face at colonial border regions around the world. The 5K draws parallels between injustices happening at the various borders in Palestine under Zionist military control and the border between the U.S. and Mexico. Additionally, state violences and tactics in both the U.S. and Palestine not only resemble one another, but both states exchange tactics and trainings in order to maintain a racialized social hierarchy to oppress indigenous people and people of color living under colonial rule. This event is part of the 11th annual Enero Zapatista, a month-long celebration in San Diego in January to celebrate the Zapatista rebellion in Chiapas, Mexico in 1994, which achieved political autonomy for many of the indigenous peoples of southeastern Mexico. We were joined by about 200 local community members.

While ongoing systematic oppression has been persistent throughout history, the turn of the New Year marks a lot to remember, with another devastating attack and demolition of Gaza, the continued upsurge of murders of the black community by cop and continued killing and detention of border crossers, among many other ongoing injustices. 

This event highlighted a constellation of transnational connections between indigenous and oppressed communities, rooting these connections in local struggle. As indigenous and oppressed communities unite, we are in acknowledgement that no matter what point in the history of colonization, our lands and people from the U.S. and Mexico to all of Palestine and the refugees and displace from colonization are suffering under the control of colonial, neoliberal regimes. We were joined by Peace and Dignity Journeys (PDJ), a group that organizes runs to hundreds of indigenous communities across the Americas, a spiritual act of breaking barriers and connecting indigenous communities, adding a piece of ceremonial significance to the staffs that they carry through these communities for every run they coordinate. PDJ graciously offered these staffs as part of the run and opened up our celebration of community power with a ceremony honoring indigenous communities. These staffs, carried by Palestinian, indigenous, black and Chican@ community members, led this year’s 5K. 
We were also joined by community prison abolition organizer and professor Dennis Childs. He founded the San Diego No Prisons Coalition and is doing grassroots organizing against the construction of the Donovan prison in South San Diego. His words offered a framework for thinking through the connections between prisons, Palestine and indigeneity. Pieces of his discussion and our the entire action can be seen in this video link: We were also joined by the UC Graduate Student-Workers Union, UAW 2865 who in December became the first labor union to endorse BDS, by a two-thirds margin with an unprecedented call for Boycott, Divestment AND Sanctions of Israel, over half of whom endorsed the academic boycott. 

Alongside PYM-SD and CZ, we were joined by other community orgs from Southern California including Anak Bayan San Diego, Health and Fitness San Diego and Indigenous Defense Resistance Unity Movement (IDRUM) from San Bernardino. Undocumented community members and members from the Mexico side of the border also participated, prioritizing this form of protest over the vulnerabilities that this close proximity to the border could put them in. Local Reggae band Sol Remedy offered their talents, playing their music as runners and walkers finished their run and were building together.

We followed the live music with a community reflection circle where people expressed the political, social and spiritual connections the run surfaced. Ending in a debka circle, our run brought communities together across different contexts here in San Diego and Southern California more broadly and allowed for a moment of celebration of our communities and the work that we do; running/walking, listening, discussing and dancing together.

The political foundations of the run are rooted in militarization and control of our communities and borders. The same Israeli company, Elbit Systems, is constructing both the Israeli annexation wall in Palestine and the U.S.-Mexico border wall and reaping huge profits. Currently, the Israeli annexation wall confiscates Palestinian lands, cutting off families and villages from their agricultural lands, while an Israeli blockade on Gaza has suffocated its 1.8 million inhabitants since 2007 and has countlessly attacked Gaza militarily, with its latest attack resulting in the murder of over 2,000 Palestinians in the summer of 2014 during the holy month of Ramadan. Additionally, millions of Palestinian refugees, displaced for over 65 years, are unable to return to their homes. Here in the United States, There are 1,100 deportations every day, across the nation. Up to now, under Obama there have been more than 2 million deportations, the most ever seen under any president. Millions of families have been torn apart. In addition, we protest the injustices of our communities locally and internationally more broadly and as such recognize that tactics of local law enforcement institutions in the US not only deploy similar tactics as the Israeli military, but they also receive training from the Israeli military and benefit from prison and weapons technologies developed by Israel, tested on Palestinians and sold to the US and used on the most vulnerable citizens, more times than not black and brown. This protest also recognizes the parallels between the Palestinian political prisoner struggle and the struggle of communities of color locally who face mass imprisonment and acknowledge these parallels as systematic racism.

We refuse to submit as security, prison, law enforcement and governmental institutions continue to profit off of the oppression of our peoples. With all of these powerful connections and participation from a larger network of community members, this year’s 5K (our 2nd annual) offers a new beginning for San Diego community organizers, the transnational connections they make and prospects of joint-work on local levels and beyond!
Youtube Links: 

Press Contact: 
Jennifer Moghannam, PYM-SD