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Santa Cruz Indymedia | Police State and Prisons

My Experiences in Solitary Confinement & Organizing For Trayvon & Against Solitary
by Steven Argue
Saturday Jul 27th, 2013 7:03 AM
“The worker who becomes a policeman in the service of the capitalist state, is a bourgeois cop, not a worker.” –Leon Trotsky, “What Next? Vital Question for the German Proletariat”, 1932
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My Experiences in Solitary Confinement and..

Santa Cruz Organizing For Trayvon Martin and Against Solitary Confinement

I myself spent about 5 months out of my 9 month sentence in the Santa Cruz County Jail in solitary confinement. I was in jail for coming to the defense of a woman and small child who were being brutalized by the police at a protest against the U.S. bombing of Yugoslavia. In jail, I was immediately put in solitary confinement, being told, "Mr. Argue, I have put you in administrative segregation because I deem you a threat in potentially organizing against authority".

In solitary I wrote a lot and what I was writing was getting published on the outside. I was threatened by guards that they would hurt my wrist if I kept writing. I kept writing. The guards then one day handcuffed me and then brutally beat me, hurting my wrist so bad that I couldn't write for months.

Protests outside the jail against my beating then got me out of solitary confinement for a while, but I was put back in after getting caught with an extra blanket another prisoner had gotten to me to fight excessive cold of the nights. (As an additional punishment, they turn up the air conditioning at night and deny additional bedding or clothing to inmates.)

The next time I got out of solitary I started petitions against the privatization of the commissary and the increase in price for materials needed to contact the outside world. Everyone in my cell block signed the petition and it was published on the outside. Prices for some materials were brought down, and I was put in the hole (i.e. solitary confinement without reading or writing materials) for the rest of my stay.

-Steven Argue of the Revolutionary Tendency

To Join Santa Cruz Organizing Efforts, See:
http://www.facebook.com/events/181093905402253/

For more on Trayvon Martin, see:

The Case of Trayvon Martin: There is No Justice in The Capitalist Courts!
http://neworleans.indymedia.org/news/2013/07/18241.php

ILWU Local 10 Pledges Support For Trayvon Martin Actions
http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2013/07/21/18740161.php

Comments  (Hide Comments)

by Sam
Saturday Jul 27th, 2013 5:17 PM
Was this when you were in the SWP? The hyperlegalist SWP I imagine would have felt less than comfortable with the association.
by Steven Argue
Saturday Jul 27th, 2013 5:30 PM
No, it was in 1999 to 2000. I'd been out of the SWP for quite some time. The SWP didn't support me. I did get support from a number of parties though. These included the Peace and Freedom Party, the Spartacist League, Socialist Organizer, Socialist Action, the Santa Cruz Green Party (officially anyway, if not in action by their city council person), the Workers World Party, the Progressive Labor Party, the Revolutionary Communist Party. The million member Bangladeshi textile workers union backed me as well.
by Anna Enns
Saturday Jul 27th, 2013 7:45 PM
No doubt the backing of the Bangladeshi Textile Workers Union is what got you out of solitary. I mean, who in Santa Cruz can ignore a million Bangladeshi textile workers?

I was in Dhaka in 1999, and I remember the signs at the airport, saying, "Learn computar grow careeear make moneys", and "Free the revolutionary Argue!"

It was very impressive indeed.
by Steven Argue
Sunday Jul 28th, 2013 6:10 AM
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Anna Enns, your sarcasm exudes total ignorance. The Bangladeshi textile union was not mobilized to get me out of solitary, but their union took a very clear stand against the political repression that was carried out at against protesters at the May 22, 1999 demonstration against the bombing of Yugoslavia and demanded my release. You may think brutal repression is funny, but Bangladeshi workers experience it themselves, recognized it for what it was, and were in solidarity.

Workers Protesting Garment Factory Collapse Shot By Police

By Steven Argue

The death toll from a garment factory collapse in Bangladesh in April has reached 1,130 people. The day before the collapse workers noticed obvious cracks that had formed in the building's structure, but were forced back to their jobs by the factory owner.

In November of 2012 a similar unsafe sweatshop in Bangladesh had a fire that caused the death of 111 workers. The death toll was so high because the managers kept emergency exits locked. The company produced clothing for WalMart and other imperialist companies.

Meanwhile, after the collapse, the profits of sweatshop owners in Bangladesh increased in May by 15%. Whatever people want to say about the industrial era supposedly being over, the production of capitalist commodities continues. While industries like textiles generally aren't produced by American workers anymore, they continue to be produced by the potentially powerful working class of the world.

Attempting to get some justice for their fellow workers, protests and mass strikes have erupted in Bangladesh against the unsafe conditions that are killing workers for profit. Two such protests that were taking place last week were brutally attacked by the police. The first, on June 4th was a protest of about 5,000 people. It was attacked by the police with rubber bullets. Thirty people were injured. There was another protest at a different location the next day. Hundreds of people were demanding salaries and back pay promised by the government and capitalist exploiters in the Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA). The protest included factory workers from the collapsed building and family members of the dead. Instead of meeting the just demands of the workers, the Bangladeshi capitalist government once again attacked workers with tear gas, beatings with batons, and firing guns into the air. Another 50 people were injured.

A series of strikes and protests in 2010 by Bangladesh's textile workers was met with similar brutality, including the police beatings of children who joined the strike. Despite the police violence in 2010, the striking workers were able to win an 80% increase in the minimum wage for Bangladesh's millions of garment workers.

For an End to Capitalist Exploitation in Bangledesh through Proletarian Revolution!

For an End to U.S. Imperialism through Socialist Revolution in the United States!

For the Nationalization of WalMart and Similar Corporations to Achieve:

Safe Conditions and Living Wages for All Workers Exploited by U.S. Capitalists!

Total Expropriation of the Walton Family and Other Ruling Class Families without Compensation!

-Steven Argue of the Revolutionary Tendency



by noR00l3rs
Sunday Jul 28th, 2013 2:29 PM
i believe the troll post violates indybay policies.
please delete it and my post.

steve was brutalized by the pigs for defending others and speaking out.

enns sarcasm isn't even that funny.
by thanks steven
Monday Jul 29th, 2013 1:27 PM
its still cold in the santa cruz county jail. and dirty.

thank you steven for continuing to protest poor conditions there.

five people have died inside the jail in the last year.

it takes bravery for any citizen to protest that jail publicly, and you continue to speak out even after they physically abused you.

lets make sure no one else dies in there this year
by Antoinette
Tuesday Jul 30th, 2013 6:35 PM
I'm new to this story. Why did Steve Argue end up in Jail in the first place?
by (a)
Tuesday Jul 30th, 2013 9:32 PM
Steve punched a pig who was brutalizing a women and small child.
by Robert Norse
Wednesday Jul 31st, 2013 2:18 AM
Steve Argue's ordeal is also described in earlier articles originally published in the homeless monthly Street Spirit (http://www.huffsantacruz.org/StreetSpiritSantaCruz/126.Homeless%20Activist%20Faces%20Years%20in%20Prison%20for%20Coming%20to%20Defense%20of%20Mother%20and%20Child%20in%20Ant-War%20Protest=7-99.pdf
& http://www.huffsantacruz.org/StreetSpiritSantaCruz/127.Activist%20Defends%20Woman%28cont.%29=7-99.pdf ).

A protest several months ago highlighted concerns about incompetence and/or malice in the medical treatment of Santa Cruz prisoners under the new privatized medical system (http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2013/04/15/18735207.php )

Quoting from his recent Community TV show, Steve Pleich, an officeseeker and political activist, writes of the Sin Barras organization: "They are asking why our country imprisons a greater percentage of its citizens than any other country in the world. They are asking why Black Americans who comprise 12% of the population compose 40% of all prison populations. They are asking why 65% of all those incarcerated are non-violent drug offenders. They are asking our President why the federal sentencing guidelines for crack cocaine are 18 times that of the punishment for powder.

"They are asking why our county jail is operating at 120% capacity at a time when the State of California is under a federal consent decree to reduce the overall prison population by 30,000. The are asking why, in consideration of the fact that the consent decree is based on a finding by the court that the level of medical care provided to prison inmates violates their constitutional protection against cruel and unusual punishment, our county jail has decided to outsource its medical care and place it beyond local control. And they are asking why our young non-criminal Latinos are being racially profiled and placed on immigration holds by the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement with the cooperation of our county Sheriff's Department.

How many people are being held in solitary confinement here in Santa Cruz? What are the criteria? Has the policy meaningfully changed since Argue's experience, or has it gotten worse? What kind of racial profiling goes on in the jails?

These local questions can more effectively be pressed with the force of the Zimmerman scandal driving the exposure. Particularly if we can secure the specific information about the number of folks held in solitary here, the particulars of racial profiling in Santa Cruz from arrest to incarceration, the percentage of Drug War incarcerations here, the cost of all of this, etc.

Public inquiry, public protest, and publicizing local specifics all have an impact--when local organizations actually choose to carry through on the specifics.

As repression against political protesters and homeless people mounts in Santa Cruz, raising these questions and exposing this kind of information broadens the coalition against these attacks.