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!

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