We are fast approaching the July 25th Day of Solidarity with Antifascist Prisoners, and in preparation, we wanted to update everyone on the legal situation of our antifa comrades in the last year. In that time, quite a few antifascists have finished serving their time or have had their legal situations resolved, but unfortunately, a number remain behind bars, with many more expected to join them over the course of the next year.
Beginning with the good news, many antifascists finished serving their time, and have rejoined their friends and family after many months or years of separation. In Belarus, Dzimitry Zvan’ko—one of many antifas from Brest targeted by authorities—was released on parole on May 31, 2016 after serving three years. In Germany, on June 28th, Valentin, who was arrested and spent 10 months in jail for his involvement in a fight started by fascist soccer hooligans, was given a suspended sentence of 3 years instead of prison time. Many Swedish antifascists were also released in the past year—Dennis Miraballes, Nick Staffas, Linus Soinjoki, and Adam Taylor are now all home. In the United States, Jason Hammond was released on parole on April 1st, after serving a year and a half for direct action against the White Nationalist Economic Summit in 2012. Finally, Luke O’Donovan, after serving two years in prison for defending himself from a homophobic knife attack, will be released on July 25th, the International Day of Solidarity!
That these comrades are out is something to be cheered and celebrated, but we cannot forget the antifas who remain in prison, or the sad fact that many others will be joining them all too soon. Michelle Smith was sentenced on July 12th to twelve months in prison for her participation in the antifa counter-protest of an anti-immigration rally called by various far-right and fascist groups in Dover, England on January 30th. Additionally, there are many other antifas currently on bail in England for actions over the past year who are also facing jail time. In the United States, seven antifascists were charged on June 30th in connection with a physical confrontation between antifascists and Klansmen in Anaheim, California this past February. Although three antifa were stabbed, none of the KKK members were charged by police. In Sweden, eight of the Kungsan 15 were sentenced to prison on July 1st to between 4 and 12 months for a physical confrontation with fascists during a huge counter-protest of a Nazi demonstration in 2014.
The worldwide increase in far-right activity means that more anti-fascists will risk not just prison, but their very lives, in confrontations with fascist scum (who are protected and encouraged by the state). In order to be as effective as we can be in this fight, we must create a strong flow of solidarity over the prison walls, not just on July 25th, but every day.
However, there is something powerful in a worldwide day of solidarity, and there is still time to do something for July 25th. Even something small, such as a solidarity photo, or a letter, is meaningful and appreciated. If you write to a prisoner, consider participating in Rose City Antifa’s Postcards to Prisoners project, and tweet a photo of your postcard or letter using the hashtag #postcardstoprisoners. Another way to be in solidarity is to contribute to Antifa International’s International Anti-Fascist Defense Fund, which raises funds for prisoners, as well as money for legal defense, medical costs, and family expenses for antifascists.
Tweet your solidarity with the #J25antifa hashtag and remember:
They are in there for us, and we are out here for them!
Free Roman Bogdan! Free Vlad Lenko! Free Dzmitry Stsyashenka! Free Jock Palfreeman! Free Michelle Smith! Free Aleksandr Kolchenko! Free Alexey Sutuga! Free Joel Almgren!