Cedar is now in their third week of pre-trial incarceration in Barton Jail. They have been moved to the male side of the prison, but remain in segregation. This means that for 23 hours each day they sit in a tiny cell by themselves, completely cut off from any human contact short of occasional harassment from guards. For one hour each day their door swings open onto an empty range where they hurriedly shower, shave, and try to fit in a couple phone calls. Because prisoners can only make collect calls, monthly phone bills for an average prisoner can exceed several hundred dollars, in addition to the headache of cell phones being unable to receive collect calls. Nevertheless, we’ve managed to stay in relatively good contact with Cedar, sending them heaps of love and support from all over the world.
Last week the jail was on lock down because a guard lost a pair of scissors, meaning that no prisoners were allowed out of their cells. For 120 hours Cedar was left to sit in their cell completely cut off from the outside world, unable to simply ensure that their new lawyer would be in attendance at their upcoming court appearance. In spite of this, their spirits remain high. They’ve already received about a couple dozen letters from friends, read a text book on the history of the middle east, and are receiving as many visitors as the jail will allow. Thought, as we’ve learned time and time again, the administration can cancel visits without explanation or warning, and so family and friends who’ve traveled to visit Cedar and other prisoners are often left to vent their anger and sadness together in the foyer. In case you haven’t clued in yet: prison truly is a vile and inexcusable institution.
Cedar is preparing for a bail review, and has retained a new lawyer (Craig Bottomley) for the job. This will be a final chance to argue in front of a judge that they should in fact be granted bail, and not left to rot in a jail cell for the rest of the year while the system drags it’s oafish heels towards a trial. We are hoping for a bail review to happen within the next month, in time for Cedar to catch some of the spring bloom they so cherish. In the meantime, Cedar is going to continue to make regular, routine court appearances approximately every two weeks in which they will be hauled out of their cell, carted off to the courthouse, shackled and brought before a judge for three minutes of bureaucratic babble. Each time they step out into the courtroom they will look out to see faces of loved ones, pat their heart and smile, and then be forced to stand silent while mindless goons play with their life like it was a tired old slinky.
With each passing day of Cedar’s incarceration our rage towards this brutal regime only grows. The police, courts and prisons are necessary components of a world based on hierarchy and domination. It is a world we reject, and a world we will stand against until the last brick of the last prison has fallen. Far from being paralyzed by fear at the level of criminalization our community is currently facing, we are finding ways to organize support, build our networks, and continue to fight for a world without prisons.