Marlen (NAU '16) facilitated a great webinar this week, educating about Cop City. Keep reading to learn how to support protestors and activists trying to stop the development.
Marlen is currently serving in this term of the DDCSP Alumni Council as part of Mutual Aid subcommittee. They are a self proclaimed Jersey loud mouth, community organizer, and constantly figuring it out. Marlen has spent time in frontline communities of environmental issues in the east and midwest of Turtle Island and is always learning.
What is Cop City?
Who are the stakeholders?
What can you do?
Tips for writing letters to jailed protestors:
(from sproutdistro.com/catalog/zines/prisons/writing- prisoners-frequently-asked-questions)
- Introduce yourself - tell them your name, location, how you found out about them, and, if it’s relevant, what group you’re affiliated with.
- Share some updates on what’s going on in the outside world, especially things that are significant to you. Don’t be afraid to give lots of details - letters are one of few links to the outside world that many prisoners have, so words and stories that can evoke vivid sounds, smells, tastes, images, and feelings can be very impactful.
- Ask questions like you would with anyone else you were getting to know. What’s their favorite food or movie? What are their interests?
- Be upfront about how often you’ll be able to write. It’s fine if you’re only intending to send a single letter of support, just be clear so you don’t set up an expectation of writing regularly if you can’t realistically commit to that.
- If you’re not great with words, share a poem or some lyrics that you like. Or draw something! Or, if the rules permit, add articles or photographs; you can write in some commentary to personalize them. If the prisoner is in for a political offense you should obviously let them know you support their actions but don't start praising them as some sort of hero to the cause. Rhetoric to the effect of “I’m in awe of your great sacrifice blah, blah...” is frankly cringe- worthy. If someone is caught up for a political action they probably don't want to be seen as martyrs – they're just normal people unlucky enough to get caught, so write to them like normal people rather than fawning!
- Political literature – be careful! Unless the prisoner asks for it, avoid sending any overly contentious political material in as it can potentially cause them grief. There's no problem sending this kind of thing as long as you ask the prisoner first and always respect their wishes.
It’s normal to feel intimidated or anxious about writing to a prisoner for the first time. People express this to us all the time, and we understand - you’ve never met the person before, you don’t know what to say, you’re not sure what things are okay and not okay to talk about… and cops might read your letter. Just keep in mind that prisoners are regular people like us, and everyone is different. We can’t tell you exactly what to write. We can only encourage you to be yourself so that diverse and genuine connections can be built.
Please note, no one listed above is a DDCSPer despite similar names. If you need more details about where or how to send letters, reach out to email@example.com
More information about giving financial support, events, and other ways to get involved:
All images and links shared courtesy of Marlen Paredes.