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Life Arts

The Revolutionaries in Our Midst

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Hammond spent months within the Occupy movement in Chicago. He embraced its "leaderless, non-hierarchical structures such as general assemblies and consensus, and occupying public spaces." But he was highly critical of what he said were the "vague politics" in Occupy that allowed it to include followers of the libertarian Ron Paul, some in the tea party, as well as "reformist liberals and Democrats." Hammond said he was not interested in any movement that "only wanted a 'nicer' form of capitalism and favored legal reforms, not revolution." He remains rooted in the ethos of the Black Bloc.

"Being incarcerated has really opened my eyes to the reality of the criminal justice system," he said...

"...that it is not a criminal justice system about public safety or rehabilitation, but reaping profits through mass incarceration. There are two kinds of justice -- one for the rich and the powerful who get away with the big crimes, then for everyone else, especially people of color and the impoverished. There is no such thing as a fair trial. In over 80 percent of the cases people are pressured to plea out instead of exercising their right to trial, under the threat of lengthier sentences. I believe no satisfactory reforms are possible. We need to close all prisons and release everybody unconditionally."

He said he hoped his act of resistance would encourage others, just as Manning's courage had inspired him. He said activists should "know and accept the worst possible repercussion" before carrying out an action and should be "aware of mass counterintelligence/surveillance operations targeting our movements." An informant posing as a comrade, Hector Xavier Monsegur, known online as "Sabu," turned Hammond and his co-defendants in to the FBI. Monsegur stored data retrieved by Hammond on an external server in New York. This tenuous New York connection allowed the government to try Hammond in New York for hacking from his home in Chicago into a private security firm based in Texas. New York is the center of the government's probes into cyber-warfare; it is where federal authorities apparently wanted Hammond to be investigated and charged.

Hammond said he will continue to resist from within prison. A series of minor infractions, as well as testing positive with other prisoners on his tier for marijuana that had been smuggled into the facility, has resulted in his losing social visits for the next two years and spending "time in the box [solitary confinement]." He is allowed to see journalists, but my request to interview him took two months to be approved. He said prison involves "a lot of boredom." He plays chess, teaches guitar and helps other prisoners study for their GED. When I saw him, he was working on the statement, a personal manifesto, that he will read in court this week.

He insisted he did not see himself as different from prisoners, especially poor prisoners of color, who are in for common crimes, especially drug-related crimes. He said most inmates are political prisoners, caged unjustly by a system of totalitarian capitalism that has snuffed out basic opportunities for democratic dissent and economic survival.

"The majority of people in prison did what they had to do to survive," he said...

"Most were poor. They got caught up in the war on drugs, which is how you make money if you are poor. The real reason they get locked in prison for so long is so corporations can continue to make big profits. It is not about justice. I do not draw distinctions between us.

"Jail is essentially enduring harassment and dehumanizing conditions with frequent lockdowns and shakedowns. You have to constantly fight for respect from the guards, sometimes getting yourself thrown in the box. However, I will not change the way I live because I am locked up. I will continue to be defiant, agitating and organizing whenever possible."

He said resistance must be a way of life. He intends to return to community organizing when he is released, although he said he will work to stay out of prison. "The truth," he said, "will always come out." He cautioned activists to be hyper-vigilant and aware that "one mistake can be permanent." But he added, "Don't let paranoia or fear deter you from activism. Do the down thing!"

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Chris Hedges spent nearly two decades as a foreign correspondent in Central America, the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans. He has reported from more than 50 countries and has worked for The Christian Science Monitor, National Public Radio, The Dallas Morning News and The New York Times, for which he was a foreign correspondent for 15 years.

Hedges was part of the team of (more...)
 

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If only parents and grandparents could just look a... by Pal Palsimon on Monday, Nov 11, 2013 at 2:59:25 AM
11/22/13 - A Silent Vigil Begins For JFK Records R... by Karl Golovin on Monday, Nov 11, 2013 at 11:07:09 AM
chris, this is tragic.  and after having read... by laurie steele on Monday, Nov 11, 2013 at 12:56:42 PM
Hedges at his best! And, to fill in the history -O... by Charles Roll on Monday, Nov 11, 2013 at 1:33:10 PM
Reagan Launches Explicit Policy Using "Terror" as ... by Charles Roll on Monday, Nov 11, 2013 at 1:41:22 PM
If you think about it, how could we draw a distinc... by Charles Roll on Monday, Nov 11, 2013 at 1:48:35 PM
REVOLUTION. Nothing more, Nothing less. The Fourth... by Textynn N on Monday, Nov 11, 2013 at 2:39:37 PM
In terms of this bloke  Sabu  ( Hector... by paulvcassidy on Thursday, Nov 14, 2013 at 5:26:16 AM
and just by way of continuation......But beyond th... by paulvcassidy on Thursday, Nov 14, 2013 at 5:28:29 AM
@38_Degrees want you to share your reason for oppo... by paulvcassidy on Thursday, Nov 14, 2013 at 7:44:01 AM
"Is this happening in the US too?" The answer is Y... by Charles Roll on Monday, Nov 18, 2013 at 3:27:39 PM