Clark Kissinger & Miles Solay at the Rally Drop the Charges
Rally to Support Drop the Charges - Carl Dix & Sunsara Taylor
Rally to Support Drop the Charges - The Ebony Hillbilly, Norris Bennet
Rally to Support Drop the Charges - Reverend Stephen Phelps
July 12 Trial Date
Stop the Persecution of Clark and Miles, #ShutDownRikers Protesters
June 27, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
C. Clark Kissinger and Miles Solay are set for trial on Tuesday, July 12, on charges from the October 2015 protest to #ShutDownRikers, the notorious jail in New York City, as part of Rise Up October. Clark, manager of Revolution Books in New York City, has been a prominent figure of opposition to U.S. capitalism-imperialism beginning in the 1960s and became a supporter of Bob Avakian and the Revolutionary Union (the forerunner of the Revolutionary Communist Party) in the early 1970s. Miles is founder of the revolutionary rock band Outernational, which has toured Europe, Latin America, and the U.S. (For more on the October 2015 protest, see “A Shout-out to the Courageous Fighters Who Put Their Bodies on the Line to Shut Down Rikers Island Prison.”)
Organizers of #RiseUpOctober actions and the Stop Mass Incarceration Network are calling on everyone possible to be in court when the jury trial begins. The criminal system running Rikers is working to lock up these two protesters for up to a year on Rikers for demonstrating behind the just demand to shut it down.
What makes the prosecution of these two protesters even more outrageous is that the killing culture of Rikers is being more deeply exposed because of the recent felony convictions of nine Rikers correction officers for beating, or ordering the beating, of Jahmal Lightfoot, who was locked up at Rikers in 2012. Lightfoot testified in April that “basically it was open season for them to do what they wanted” to prisoners at Rikers and that the guards nearly beat him to death.
On any one night, Rikers holds more than 8,000 prisoners. Most are there because they can’t make bail or have been convicted of misdemeanors. As the Stop Mass Incarceration Network says, “Rikers Island is compared to the prison the United States ran in Iraq, Abu Ghraib, the site of scandalous prisoner abuse. This is no exaggeration. Decades of deaths in custody at the hands of guards, brutal and widespread sexual violence, solitary confinement for years, denial of medical care, and abuse of children are routine—a part of the genocide of mass incarceration. Of those imprisoned at Rikers on an average day, some 90 percent are Black or Latino.” (For more on Rikers, see Shut Down Rikers Fact Sheet at www.revcom.us.)
In response to an argument by the defense, the prosecution agreed to try Clark and Miles together in one trial. But they have made no offer in the case other than telling the defendants to plead guilty to obstructing government administration, a misdemeanor carrying a possible one-year sentence at Rikers, and on violations of disorderly conduct. The defendants refused to plead to a criminal charge for participating in a nonviolent political protest, and now expect to be tried in front of a jury.
At an April hearing in the case, an assistant DA was overheard complaining that the “protesters” were calling her office to say the charges on Miles and Clark should be dropped, and she was having a hard time getting her work done. The system may not heed the demand to drop the charges, but they are hearing it. More than 700 have signed a message to the DA’s office demanding that the charges be dropped.
Many more people should join in the demands to drop the charges on Clark and Miles and to #ShutDownRikers. Sign the petition here.
A support rally for Clark and Miles will be held Tuesday, June 28 in New York.