[2 articles]

Former political prisoner, prison abolitionist to highlight fundraiser


By  Molly Johnson  | IDS
Feb. 19, 2009

Boxcar Books and Community Center Inc. will be host to a fundraiser 
at 7 p.m. Saturday for recently released political prisoner Ali 
Khalid Abdullah.

The event will feature two speakers, live acoustic music and 
complimentary appetizers and desserts.

Abdullah will present his prison writings and discuss his experiences 
of the past 20 years.

Released from prison this past August, Abdullah spent the last 19 
years in Michigan prisons, convicted for his involvement in trying to 
shut down a major Detroit drug dealer.

After becoming fed up with the Detroit police department's lack of 
intervention, Abdullah and other community members decided to get 
involved. Numerous neighborhood crimes were associated with the local 
drug dealer, and Abdullah said the youth and elderly were afraid to 
leave their homes.

The driving force that led Abdullah to take action was the sexual 
molestation of an 11-year-old girl that occurred to clear what the 
girl's mother owed for drugs.

Abdullah was later charged with assault and attempt to rob while 
armed but said he believes he was arrested because of his political 
beliefs and his possible associations with groups such as the Black 
Panther Party, the Black Liberation Army and the Progressive Labor Party.

"I was imprisoned for my beliefs," Abdullah said, "the belief that we 
have a right to determine our own destiny, have food, have health 
care and have our children safe."
Because of his experiences behind bars, Abdullah now considers 
himself a prison abolitionist.

"Life in prison was horrible, depressing, vicious ­ and the officers 
did not care about any of us," Abdullah said. "It doesn't do anything 
but harden a person; it does not help."

Bryce Martin, a member of Decarcerate Monroe County, said Abdullah's 
story drove him and other Decarcerate Monroe County members to 
organize the event.

"Ever since we found out Ali was coming to town, we wanted to do 
whatever support work we could for him," Martin said. "His story is 
so compelling."

Also speaking at the fundraiser will be prison abolitionist, 
community organizer and writer Anthony Rayson. Rayson is a resident 
of Chicagoland and runs the Anarchist Black Cross Network and a zine 
distro, a type of magazine, associated with the group. Rayson said in 
a statement that he works closely with many prisoners, like Abdullah, 
to publish their art and writing in his zines.

"I wanted to work with the most brilliant minds," Rayson said. "The 
more I learned, and the further I looked into it, I saw that the most 
brilliant minds were coming out of prisons."

The event is free, but those who attend are encouraged to make a 
donation to help Abdullah overcome his hardships including medical 
conditions that have resulted from his extended imprisonment.

Abdullah's writings, along with Rayson's zines and other forms of 
prisoner artwork, will be available at the event.

"People should be incredibly impressed by the artistic ability that 
is pouring out of the prisons," Rayson said. "This fundraiser will 
sell art, offer free zines and provide an instant education on a 
genuine, underground media world."


Boxcar Books highlights political prisoner


By  Christopher Smith  | IDS
Feb. 22, 2009

In an effort to assist in the transition process of recently released 
Michigan political prisoner Ali Khalid Abdullah, Boxcar Books had a 
fundraiser Saturday.

During the fundraiser, Abdullah chronicled his personal struggles and 
read his writings to a packed room.

"I was incarcerated for protecting my community from an oppressive 
drug dealer," Abdullah said. "It was my responsibility, since the 
police wouldn't do it, to stop this man from terrorizing my community 
and the people in it."

Abdullah was arrested, charged with assault with attempt to rob while 
armed, and incarcerated for 20 years because of his efforts to shut 
down Detroit businesses owned by a local drug dealer.

"I experienced terrible treatment while incarcerated due to my 
affiliation with the Black Panther Party and other political groups," 
Abdullah said. "I was moved to over 40 different prisons, was stabbed 
then denied medical treatment and was denied parole on every 
occasion, even though I had petitions from around the world vouching 
for my release."

Even while incarcerated, Abdullah continued to denounce prison 
conditions and fight for the rights of fellow political prisoners 
through zines ­ small, self-published magazines ­ and the formation 
of the Political Prisoners of War Coalition.

Anthony Rayson published Abdullah's work  through his company 
Anarchist Black Cross' zine distro, and he introduced Abdullah during 
the fundraiser.

"Anthony Rayson was instrumental in the spread of my cause," Abdullah 
said. "He put his heart, his feet and his money where his talk was. 
He understands that we all must take action, regardless of race, 
gender, ethnicity or class."

"The work of people like Abdullah has to be heard," Rayson said. "A 
lot of these guys have beautiful things to write and are so 
articulate, and it's our job to make sure they are heard."

The Decarcerate Monroe County organization was responsible for 
bringing Abdullah to Bloomington and coordinating the fundraiser.

"We thought it was important to help Abdullah in every way we can," 
said Bryce Martin, a member of Decarcerate Monroe County. "Although 
we can't help all the medical problems that Abdullah has as a result 
of being imprisoned, we thought it was important to do what we could 
by holding this fundraiser and offering him a place to stay."

Many individuals present at the fundraiser expressed their 
appreciation for Abdullah and his message.

"I would describe Abdullah and his teachings as an intense burning 
flame of undiscriminating black passion," said Moorishio De la Cruz, 
an independent research specialist present at the fundraiser.

Other individuals present said they appreciated the ability to place 
a voice and face with the zines Abdullah authored.

"It's so important that real narratives are heard by people," Martin 
said. "This is the type of thing that can really inspire change."


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