Speech delivered to crowd at a noise demo November 10th, 2021 for Political Prisoner Malik Muhammad in front of Multnomah County (In)Justice Center, So-Called-Portland by a member of Free Malik Now!
I am representing Free Malik Now. We are a small support group that seeks to decrease Malik Muhammad’s isolation while he is imprisoned, and work to free him from imprisonment. We work to create strong community support that continues beyond his release. Thank you for being part of that community. Free Malik Now was created by loved ones, friends of Malik and their comrades. I want to say thank you for being here.
I want to uplift some names if I can. Dr. Mutulu Shakur, Jamil Al-Amin, Ruchell Magee, Sundiata Acoli. Mumia Abu-Jamal, Leonard Peltier, Marius Mason, and many other elders like them who are still in prison on over 40 year sentences. I want to say welcome home to Russell Maroon Shoatz, who is free after 49 years in prison, David Gilbert, who is with his family after 40 years in prison. Welcome home to Jalil Muntaqim who has come home after 49 years in prison. And welcome home to Jaan Laaman released after 37 years in prison.
I want to add that these political prisoners are our elders. But at one point them and their comrades were in a similar position to where we are right now. Right now, there is an entire generation of activists, organizers and resistors locked in cages and facing severe charges. More than 14,000 people have been charged in the massive uprisings against police brutality following George Floyd’s murder at the hands of the Minneapolis Police Department according to the #Drop The Charges Coalition. More than 14,000 people. In Portland, there were over 1,000 arrests last summer alone.
There is an entire generation of activists, organizers and resistors locked in cages and facing severe charges. One of them is our friend Malik.
Malik is a political prisoner whose charges have been severely exaggerated for the purpose of instilling fear among activists and legitimizing the violent and racist power of the state. It is no coincidence that Malik, a Black man, is being made into a scapegoat for the movement for Black liberation. Nationwide and locally, media outlets have relentlessly vilified Malik. The media and the state have gone to great ends to sensationalize the story and manipulate public perception into believing he should be locked away for decades. For decades.
Political prisoners are surveilled, targeted and caged because of their connection to political movements and actions. Political prisoners are not “better” or more deserving of release than other people who are targeted and caged by the state. They are however, stolen from our movements by a system that continuously seeks to gain immense capital, and control populations who are subjected to horrendous conditions which require organizing to dismantle. We fight for political prisoners because we seek to build movements that resist destruction by the state. This requires solidarity with each other in our collective fight for liberation, and the return of our comrades who have been separated from us and the movement
A little bit of background on Malik’s case. On April 5th, 2021 Malik was arrested in Indiana, and then extradited to Oregon. He was given a $2.1 million bail. Through great struggle, the required 10% of it was met by the Portland Freedom Fund, but revoked the next day. Within 24 hours of his release, he was rearrested by federal officers. Malik was then imprisoned in Multnomah County where he was held in solitary confinement for around 90 days. 90 days. That’s 3 months. During this time, the state also actively tried to limit his contact with his partner. This detrimental treatment, combined with the threat of COVID-19 exposure due to outbreaks in the jail, posed a very real threat to his mental and physical well-being. On July 29th he was moved, pretrial, to the state’s only federal prison, FCI Sheridan. At Sheridan, Malik participated in a hunger strike that successfully increased prisoners free-time from 30 minutes every other day to four hours per day everyday, and one day per week outside for recreation.
This brings us to today. On Monday Malik lost his appeal for pretrial release. From an environment that is not jail or prison, Malik would be in a better position to fight his case and resist a shitty plea deal. A little bit about plea deals. The state will try to break someone down as hard as possible in order to push them into a plea deal. Some tactics include constant transfers, solitary, denied appeals, revoking bail, disconnecting the individual from loved ones and support systems, and pushing an overall false narrative that the state has enough evidence to convict you for longer. Sound familiar? These tactics produce an almost 97% plea deal conviction rate. Upwards to 97% of convictions are through plea deals. We can see these tactics being used on Malik consistently to drive him towards a plea deal.
Malik and others who are facing severe charges in Portland are the tokens presented to the public to vilify and attack social uprisings, create fear among activists, and make good on the DA’s political persona.
If you participated in protests for Black lives at any point last year, if you were arrested and your case was dismissed, or you managed to not be one of the 1,000 who were – five to ten people are being called to answer for all of it. Malik being the most extreme case. If you participated in the uprisings, if you supported direct confrontation with the pigs, if you yelled, screamed, marched over the last year for Black lives, it is imperative you support our political prisoners who are experiencing the full force of the state’s revenge.
Don’t forget, don’t forgive, and don’t stop fighting for those they’ve taken away from us! Make some noise! Free Malik! Free Them All!
Follow @FreeMalikNow on Instagram for updates.