Marc Emery Supporters Meet Vic Toews (The Man Who Can Bring Marc Home)
by Jodie Emery,
on Monday, 02 August 2010 01:37
I received a note on my Facebook wall from Mark Radford in Ontario, alerting me to the fact that Public Safety Minister Vic Toews, the man who will decide if Marc can serve his sentence in Canada, was having a meet-and-greet in Toronto on Tuesday, July 27th. It was the perfect opportunity to ask Vic Toews about Marc!
Jeff speaks to Vic Toews wearing the FREE MARC shirtThe event was hosted by the St. Paul's Conservatives at "The Twisted Kilt" pub, where Conservative Party supporters (and the public) could pay $10 to get in and listen to Vic Toews speak, and then grab a beer or two and mingle amongst the people and influential individuals attending.
I shared the link to the "Evening with Vic Toews" event on Facebook and asked people in the area to please attend to ask Vic Toews to bring Marc home. That evening I got pictures from the event and sure enough, Mark Radford attended, and so did three members of the Toronto "Hash Mob" who were there wearing FREE MARC shirts and carrying a stack of FREE MARC information handouts (the files for printing your own are available here).
Jeff H, Caroline, and Rev. Daniel arrived first. Jeff reported that Vic Toews and all of the much-older Conservatives were surprised to see them there, but they got to walk up to Toews and talk to him. Jeff wrote, "They were all formally dressed Conservatives who were ready to die when they saw us. Vic Toews chugged his beer during the event and just watched us. They all seemed to know about your [Jodie's] role in the Green Party, which is weird."
Caroline handed Toews one of the information sheets about Marc, which includes (on the back) the contact information for people to get in touch with him to ask for Marc's return home. Jeff wrote that "he said he had no comment and no interest in speaking about Marc Emery. Caroline said on behalf of his wife and friends and all Canadians bring him home. He said to discuss that would be highly illegal. They just drank their alcohol and ignored us mostly."
So, after they left, Mark Radford arrived, having been busy at work until then. Mark's report is especially interesting, so I want to share it here in full:
I went to the Twisted Kilt on a mission to speak with Vic Toews. I was an hour late because of work but determined; with my luck I didn't miss a thing.
There was a small chalk board outside read "St Pauls Conservatives 2nd Floor". I ascended the stairs to be immediately greeted by the eyes of older folks, mostly members of the St. Paul's Conservatives. Politely I was asked if I had my $10 dollars. I had just run there to ensure I was in the right place, so immediately ran to the closest ATM.
That being said, I got there at the nick of time, about quarter to 7. Being late I was positioned just at front where I was in perfect position to listen to Vic talk on a number of topics and then listen to his few answering of questions. One point of highlight was that he made donations to a number of a religious groups recently attacked in the Toronto. He made strong points about giving back to the areas affected by the G20 "riots", and compensation associated with business owners. After talking about a number of things he concluded by answering a few questions. He offered his availability to chat and answer questions one-on-one. I took this as my opportunity to quickly grab a beer, as Vic had one himself, and moved in to ask the points I wanted to quickly discuss.
I opened my conversation acknowledging his efforts on ensuring public safety. He made some interesting points in his speech I did not know prior to the evening. We had a quick chuckle about the G20 definitely keeping himself busy, and than I got to business.
The first question I posed to Vic was "How could I get more involved in politics at a regional level?" Immediately he introduced me to a few people who were standing by. He introduced me to Kevin Moore, who is Conservative Party of Canada candidate for Toronto Center, and a gentleman working within the Toronto District School Board. After some interesting advice we moved back to our beer, and I got to the questions I had wanted to ask all evening.
I opened with my next question, "Did you ever have a particular thing that inspired you to get involved in politics, a topic or issue?" He than stated, "I didn't get into politics until later in my life. I am from a small town outside of Winnipeg, and was concerned about Manitoba's debt. It was then that I spoke up, and got involved in politics." I complimented him saying that was interesting and that I can relate, I positioned myself, "we may eternally disagree on something, but that difference is what drives me feel impelled to get involved."
Caroline hands Vic Toews a FREE MARC info sheetI then went on, "I disagree with Canadian Drug Policy, because of the laws that in place criminalizing drugs. We are fueling violence by creating a market for organized crime." Talking in his terms with some literal sense I continued: "We are putting money and power into the hands of sometimes violent criminals." I concluded, "The victims are not those themselves taking the drugs, but the innocent people who are victims of drug related crime."
I then questioned: "That being said, why not regulate drugs, and take the money out of organize crimes and put it towards funding of public safety initiatives?" Vic responded. "You aren't far off. I actually agree with some of your points. I have had people within my party who grill me on this subject. Friends who are Libertarians, who especially grill me on the subject." He concluded by saying, "The concept is growing in popularity the votes just aren't in that favor." Vic then with sincerity said "I don't disagree with everything your saying, stay involved do what it takes to get your message across. Talk with Conservative MP's, and get people on board. You don't have to get involved with the Marijuana Party to disagree with drug laws. You can still be a conservative but disagree on Canadian Drug Policy."
After his previous comments, I had the last question I had been itching to ask. "Obviously you have received the documents associated with Marc Emery coming home to Canada. Are you able to talk about his possible return?" He opened, "the one thing about Marc Emery is that he does it to himself." As soon as he said that, I focused everything I had at communicating my attention; I was listening carefully and let him know that I cared about every detail of his words.
He continued, "I have heard the many letters of support, and will take a strong consideration." He concluded, "If Marc Emery can promise to not sell drugs to the United States or within Canada," I politely interrupted "marijuana seeds", he said "thank you, if he promises to not sell marijuana seeds after serving his sentence within the United States or within Canada, I would be willing to bring him home." I said "thank you. His friends, and thousands of supporters, including his wife, appreciate the strong consideration." He sincerely looked at me saying, "Thank you for coming out tonight." He answered the questions of one other person, and quickly left with his assistant.
I did miss the earlier supporters, but I saw the many "Free Marc Emery" handouts that had been dropped off by Rev. Dan Oral Walker, Jeff H, and Caroline Ruibal. It is great they had the opportunity to talk with him as well. After the speech, while people were mingling, I saw a lot of people pick up the pamphlet and ask who he was, and what it was about. It was a great conversation starter. I definitely did not come as prepared with materials as they did, I only had my questions and my word. I wish I had gotten the opportunity to meet them, I am sure the opportunity will arise soon.
That was an amazing report! This is great news because Marc will not sell marijuana seeds again, he has never wanted to sell marijuana seeds again, and he didn't sell seeds for the entire 5 years he was on bail before being imprisoned in the USA. So we can now work on asking Vic Toews to please keep his word and bring Marc home as soon as possible.
Jeff, Caroline and Daniel outside the Twisted KiltMarc is due to be sentenced on September 10th, and soon after that he will submit his "International Transfer of Offenders Act" (or, the Transfer Treaty) application. The USA and Canada have a Treaty Transfer agreement that requires each country to return citizens of the other country home to serve their sentences. The US Government rarely rejects applications by Canadians to leave the USA and serve time in Canada, but under the Conservative Government of Canada, the Public Safety Ministers (currently Vic Toews) have been delaying for years, or outright rejecting, transfer applications.
Canadians have the right under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms (Section 6: Mobility, the right to enter, leave, and remain in Canada) to come back home, and the Transfer Treaty Agreement stipulates that citizens are allowed to serve their time in their home country.
So now we just need to ensure that Vic Teows approves Marc's application as quickly as possible, once he receives it. We're asking supporters to please write to Vic Toews and ask him to bring Marc home!
Contact Public Safety Minister Vic Toews (pronounced "Taves") and tell him to approve Marc Emery's application for transfer back to Canada as soon as the submission is made!
Public Safety Minister and Conservative MP Vic Toews:
Suite 306, Justice Building House of Commons
Ph: (613) 992-3128
Fx: (613) 995-1049
8-227 Main Street
Ph: (204) 326-9889
Fx: (204) 346-9874
Lac du Bonnet Office
Lac du Bonnet, MB
Ph: (204) 345-9762
Fx: (204) 345-9768
Here is a sample letter you can use, but you're encouraged to add your own short thoughts and opinions to make it unique and more effective.
"Dear Honourable Vic Toews,
I would like to say Thank You, Mr. Toews, after reading an item posted on the internet about your St. Paul's Conservatives meeting and the comments about your intention to repatriate Canadian citizen Marc Emery once his treaty transfer application is on your desk.
I regard Marc Emery as an upstanding role-model Canadian who has made over three decades of contributions to making Canada, and the world, a better place. He has never hurt anyone, and he won't ever sell marijuana seeds again.
I salute your intention to bring Marc Emery into the Canadian correction system as soon as is possible, with no delay. He should be brought home to be closer to his wife and family as he serves the remainder of his sentence. Thank you for your consideration and I hope to see Marc Emery home soon with your approval.
(your name here)"
Visiting Marc in US Federal Prison on July 4th, Independence Day
by Jodie Emery,
on Sunday, 04 July 2010 01:36
Today is Independence Day in America, and as I sit in my hotel room in SeaTac (outside of Seattle, Washington), listening to non-stop explosions and firecrackers going off outside in celebration of "independence" and "freedom", I am saddened to think that one out of every 100 Americans are imprisoned and my Canadian husband Marc Emery is among them.
I got to visit Marc this morning, which was wonderful as always. Visiting days are only Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday; processing starts at 2pm on Friday and Monday, and 7:30am on Saturday and Sunday. Prisoners' numbers determine whether the visits are on even or odd-numbered days, so because Marc's prisoner number is #40252-086, I got to see him on Friday July 2nd and today, Sunday July 4th. However, everyone can visit today regardless of the odd-even rule, since it's a holiday, so it was very busy!
The process goes like this: I get to the prison an hour early just to be first (or one of the first) in line, because it can get crowded very fast. I bring a book along to read – with all the time to spend waiting, I already finished "The Armageddon Factor" and have started "The Fountainhead", which was extremely influential in Marc's life just like "Atlas Shrugged" was, too. Today was my fifth visit so far, though one was by video/phone because Marc was in solitary confinement then. With each visit I get more comfortable in the prison lobby, and as we visitors recognize each other, we begin talking more often. There's one woman who has been there every time, she's light-hearted and very friendly, and had heard about Marc before meeting me. A girl my age and I were talking about Marc and the DEA press release that said he was the publisher of a "propagandist magazine", and she asked which one; when I said Cannabis Culture, she exclaimed, "Oh my, everyone knows about Cannabis Culture! My husband got his lawyer from an ad in CC!" Sure enough, he was one of our regular advertisers. We do have a presence in America!
When you show up for visits, you have to fill out a form with your name and address, and the inmate name and prisoner number. There's a list of prohibited items that you have to check off "no" to each one; interestingly, "marijuana" is separate from "narcotics". At least that's true, as marijuana is certainly not a narcotic! After filling out the form you wait on the benches against the wall in the order you came in, though some new visitors don't realize they're butting in line and have to be told how it works.
As soon as 7:30am or 2:00pm (Sat/Sun, and Fri/Mon, respectively) rolls around, you get in line formation in front of the "Check-In" booth. It's a panel of reflective glass with a little hole to speak and hand things through. As you're called up to the hole one by one, you hand them your form and ID, and receive a key for a locker to put everything away. All you can bring into the visiting room is the key and your person. Some guards take a very long time doing whatever else they can busy themselves with while dozens of people wait anxiously in line, but others are more human and do it fairly quickly and efficiently.
After the first five people are processed, the guard calls out the names of the inmates, "Emery! Martinez! Simon! Jones! Agassiz!" or whomever is being visited (none of those names but Marc's are specific people; just an example). Those five visitors go up to the big metal door next to the window and wait for the loud "click-clunk" sound of it being unlocked, then line up inside the processing/guard room, then the other visitors outside wait to be processed.
In the guard room, you get a fluorescent yellow stamp on your left hand, then sign into the visitor book, and then start removing everything metal – jewelry, belts, shoes – and put them in a tray to go through the x-ray machine, just like in airports. Next, you walk through the metal detector, then put everything back on and go line up at the next door (if you beep, they do the wand scan). Once all five visitors are ready – and often-times there are many children; they don't count in the five-person rule – another guard, the escort, waits for the heavy "click-clunk" sound of the door being unlocked. Then we all file into the next section. It's a small hallway with another big steel door, and yet another "click-clunk" unlocking, and you're led into yet another hallway-room. There you can see through a window into the visitor's area; sometimes the inmates are already there waiting, sometimes they are brought in after our arrival. That final door is opened (yet again, that loud metal unlocking noise – it's definitely part of the prison soundtrack) and you go into the visiting room. (For a more thorough description of the big room, read my blog about my first visit with Marc.)
Today Marc was already waiting for me. I went up to him excitedly for our big "hello" hug and kiss – you can only hug and kiss hello and goodbye – and we enjoyed every second of it, not caring that we were kissing passionately in front of everyone; the people who are madly in love all do it; how could you not? I hugged him tightly and ran my hands through his hair and kissed his neck and inhaled deeply... boy, that sure is satisfying and quite a rush. It's hard to explain how intensely comforting it is to breathe in your loved one when you've been torn apart...
He looked at my new blue dress that I got just for the photos we were going to take. He bought five photo "tickets" for $1 each so we can have pictures together, as all inmates can do. He held me and said I looked beautiful. Even though he has to wear a solid drab grey-green-beige prisoner outfit, he still looked incredibly handsome to me, and I said so. He was a little tired, having not had a shower because showers open at 8am, and he wanted a shower before seeing me, but I explained that I wouldn't get in if I had waited until later, and as the room quickly filled with visitors, he realized I was right.
A day or two earlier he had written to me saying that his Disciplinary Hearing Officer (DHO) had given him his hearing paperwork from when he got out of solitary confinement, and he wanted me to ask him in person what it was about. So sitting there together, I brought it up and found out why he couldn't tell me through the CorrLinks "email" message: apparently, the DHO told him that he cannot use the word "demonstration" in his emails, letters, or phone calls, and he cannot communicate with members of the BC Marijuana Party, even though he's the Leader of the BCMP! Wow – if there was any doubt that he is being punished for political reasons, those doubts should be laid to rest!
So not only was he originally arrested for political reasons as admitted by the DEA, and then sent to solitary confinement for having me record a "prison podcast" for his supporters (which was not and can't be broadcast), but he can no longer mention "demonstrations" on his behalf and can't act as the Leader of the BC Marijuana Party.
Let me just say this loud and clear: MARC EMERY IS A POLITICAL PRISONER!
Marc was perplexed by the DHO's comments, but of course he agreed to comply as he does not want to break ANY rules; he's always gracious, polite, and very well-behaved. Then he told me about something else; one of the inmates he had written to me about, whom I had mentioned in a blog post, received his legal "discovery" paperwork (in American law, discovery is the pre-trial phase in which each party can request documents and other information), and part of it was the blog post I had done under Marc's blog account mentioning him. So not only are "they" – the US Federal Justice Department and the Bureau of Prisons – reading everything I post online, but they're using information in other inmates' cases... that's bizarre! Nothing bad was said in the blog, but it makes me wonder what they found of interest.
I'm beginning to question what Marc is allowed to share with me, and how it could be used against him or others. Nothing is illegal, or improper, or condemning, but as Tommy Chong wrote to me and said: the BOP doesn't "mess around" and doesn't like any bad attention, so it's best to stay silent. However, I know it is my duty to let people know what Marc is going through, and Marc wants people to know that he's okay and doing his best to deal with the extraordinarily difficult conditions of imprisonment in a maximum-security prison (which all "pre-trial" prisons are) and that he is pleased to know people are getting involved in political activism – and there's nothing wrong with that, Mr. DEA/Justice Department/BOP guys, whomever is reading this!
During our visit, as we leaned forward over the little table, only allowed to hold hands as we talked, my black scarf/shawl fell from my shoulders down around my elbows, which exposed the skin on my upper arms, but nothing else (it's a very high-neckline dress). One of the two guards who monitor the visiting room shouted "Emery!" and came over to us. He stood next to me but looked only at Marc – because, after all, he has no authority over me, just the inmates – and said "This is your second warning. Your visitor has to cover up."
(On our Friday visit I had worn a dress – my dresses go down to my knees and have high necklines, because there are rules about attire and I don't want to be refused – and a black sweater-like shawl on top, but when I took it off that day during our visit, this guard called Marc up to the guard booth and told him to tell me to put it back on because "your visitors have to wear exactly what they came in wearing", so that was the "first warning".)
However, during this visit, the woman next to me was wearing a tank-top and shorts, so I timidly asked the guard after he gave his stern "second warning", "Excuse me, but that woman is showing her shoulders" (thinking that was the issue; I was still technically wearing the scarf) but he said "You have to wear exactly what you came in here wearing. She came in like that." So case closed. I'm not going to argue! And Marc had to say "Yes, sir," which made me resent the "I control you" power-tripping that takes place in prison. It sure makes you nervous to be told that you're getting a "second warning" though, because everyone knows the saying "three strikes and you're out"... and we do not want to lose visitation privileges, so we were very careful after that!
That particular guard always has a mean scowl on his face and walks around monitoring visitors, while the other guard is a younger and friendlier African-American guy who was nice to me on my very first visit when I was totally wide-eyed and scared. I guess you need to have the harsh guards to remind you who the kind, human guards are... but that can also cause trouble, as Marc explained to me that sometimes the more decent guards let you relax a bit, but then the hard-line ones terrify you with threats of punishment and lost privileges for things the other guards didn't mind. It's like walking on eggshells. You never know what they might do.
For example, somewhat recently, one of the guards came to Marc's cell and said in an angry tone, "Emery, do I look like your mailman? Do I? Tell all your people they can only send you letters on Saturdays," (because he had to make four trips with all the envelopes and magazines). Marc said, "Yes, sir". There was a long pause, then the guard said, "Emery, I'm messin' with ya'!" Not very comforting, but Marc definitely breathed a sigh of relief. He does NOT want to end up in solitary confinement again for any reason and getting a guard pissed off – even unintentionally – can lead to that kind of retaliation. The SHU (solitary confinement) was hellish, total isolation and deprivation, conditions that are just under the threshold of the official definition of torture... though there are some lawsuits and civil liberties cases and concerns that solitary confinement IS actually torture.
Partway through our visit, the guards called Marc's name for photos. The photographer was an older female inmate (there are a few in a separate part of the building, not many though). I had seen other inmates and visitors get their photos done and they were taken against the backdrop of three colourful painted walls: a night scene of the Seattle Space Needle (the iconic tower tourist sight), a very vibrant depiction of the Seattle Public Market Centre (also an iconic tourist location), or a purple-hued mountain scene. I wanted a plain background, like the off-white concrete walls, and asked "Can we have our photos over there, against that white wall?" and the mean guard said, "There are no white walls." I hesitated, pointed and said "But right there –" and he said "No, you do your photos there, there, or there" so we decided to do the space needle. (I'll just edit the photo by cropping it later!)
We went to the wall, and I was still wearing my scarf but it covered my entire upper body, so after the first photo of Marc holding me in a hug from behind, I took it off and threw it aside; the guards didn't say anything, thankfully. We took one more of him hugging me from behind, then one or two of us standing side-by-side holding arms/hands, and then one of us kissing, like I had seen others do. Again, the guards said nothing – I guess photos are an exception to the visiting room rules. Other women visiting have jokingly said, "it's my man's only chance to cop a feel", but Marc was a gentleman, of course, and we didn't want to get in trouble! It sure was nice to be in each others' arms, though, and getting to see each photo after it was taken. Marc will get copies in 3 weeks, then mail them to me, so in about a month I'll be able to share them online. (Everything takes longer than you think it ought to in prison!)
We sat down again and enjoyed the rest of our visit, bathing in the powerful love we have for one another. That sounds cheesy, but it's so true. Marc and I are extraordinarily close, and this ordeal is just making us even closer and more determined to undo the evil of the drug war and prison industry. I'm so grateful we're an unbreakable team. I will never stop fighting for him to come home, and for all prisoners of the drug war to be sent home too... this experience has certainly taught me a lot about the US Drug War and Imprisonment Industry so far, and the lesson has only just begun (sadly). I hope to help dismantle this horrific human rights atrocity with the help of everyone else who wants cannabis to be legal and peaceful prisoners to be freed! Let Marc's incarceration motivate you to action – if you've always been concerned but haven't taken a stand, now is the time to do it.
Here is a message I'm sharing online as my Facebook status (posted in two parts), and hope you will share too:
Are you upset about Marc Emery being a political prisoner in the USA, imprisoned for 5 years for selling seeds and funding the movement? Make a sign and spend an hour standing in an intersection to really prove that you're willing to TAKE A STAND! Or make a banner to hang on an overpass (a cheap sheet or tablecloth with dark paint works great, and reaches a huge audience of traffic driving by). You must get out into the real world to raise awareness, to prove that you are not just sympathetic to Marc, but you're actually willing to take the time to be active. When people look up Marc Emery, they will discover the injustice of the US drug war and demand that ALL peaceful prisoners of the drug war be set free. Spread the word: "FREE MARC EMERY" - "AMERICA MUST FREE MARC EMERY" - "GOOGLE MARC EMERY" - "MARC EMERY IS A POLITICAL PRISONER"
Go to http://www.CannabisCulture.com/FreeMarc and http://www.FreeMarc.ca to help FREE MARC EMERY!
My First US Federal Prison Visit With my Heroic Political Prisoner Husband, Marc Emery
by Jodie Emery,
on Friday, 18 June 2010 01:33
I went to visit Marc today for the first time at SeaTac FDC. Thankfully, I'm able to visit him even while he’s in SHU (“segregated housing unit”, solitary confinement). When I arrived at 1:30pm, it was very nerve-racking. I stepped up to the massive building's entrance, got buzzed in, then found myself in a big lobby with a reflective glass booth and a little hole to pass ID and paperwork through.
There was a table with the paperwork to fill out for visiting, but no pen. Thankfully there were some visitors there who had been through it all before and helped me figure out the process (and loaned me a pen), because you don't get any answers from the staff. Visiting officially begins at 2pm on Fridays, but by 2:15 they just started processing, which took a very long time itself.
Big families and many individuals filled the lobby. So many broken-hearted parents, girl friends, wives and troubled children crying "I want to see daddy" and behaving unruly, to the distress of the moms… so many Drug War Widows and Orphans. After all, the vast majority (almost all) of the inmates are there for non-violent drug law violations. The number of prison employees who came in and out was staggering – how can they possibly need so many staff? (Oh, right; it's one of the biggest US industries, and locking people up continues to be a booming business!)
After an hour of waiting to be processed – as they really want to drag it out and make everyone involved suffer – I was told that my visit would be conducted through video, which means NOT in person! I was stunned, trembling and ready to burst into tears (almost) because the thought of not being able to touch him in person was utterly devastating, especially after flying here from Vancouver and staying until Monday to get two visits in (you can only visit every other day), expecting to kiss, hug and hold hands.
Thankfully, as I was being waved through the metal detector, the woman said "Actually, it's Sunday that your visit will be done through video. Today you can visit in person." I almost cried with gratitude when I heard that! I didn’t know why the rule changed, and I couldn’t ask her questions, but I was so grateful I almost cried again (this is all an emotional roller-coaster of an experience).
I waited with four other people, as you get brought in five at a time, and then we started down the hallway with a guard. It's a very strange place, the inside of a federal US prison: long corridors with heavy metal doors slamming shut, camera everywhere, and colourful painted pictures of landscapes and such on the walls to try and make it less dehumanizing (it doesn’t work).
We got into the big visiting room, which consists of many rows of big plastic chairs facing other rows, and more cartoonish paintings of Seattle landmarks and scenes. There are enough seats for 125 inmates, but only 20 or so came in, staggered in time slots. As I sat there waiting for Marc to come out, I asked one of the guards why Marc’s next visit would be conducted through video; had he done something wrong? The guard explained that it's a nation-wide policy being implemented on Sunday, June 20th in all Federal Bureau of Prisons facilities for SHU inmates, and today was the last day for in-person visits. That means my visit on Sunday the 20th will be through video. Thank goodness I booked my flight for today and got this final chance!
Marc came out from one of the many doors, wearing a bright orange jumpsuit (the other inmates wear beige; he's part of the "bad" orange group of SHU inmates), looking around the room for me. I leapt to my feet crying out “Marc!” and ran towards him, he smiled and reached for me, and I jumped into his arms. He held onto me tightly, and I him, and he lifted me off the ground in a wonderful embrace – I kissed his neck over and over as he held me, clutching his head and feeling his hair, breathing him in... and then we had a long, intimate kiss as we stood there, holding each other – but the "hellos" have to end after 30 seconds, so we had to sit down. What a pleasure, though!
We sat in opposite chairs (as required) facing each other over a little plastic table, and held hands as we gazed into each others' eyes. I cried a fair bit, I'll admit – I let the tears fall down my face as I held his hands, and he wiped them away, staying strong to help me pull myself together. It was so good to see him, so nourishing to feel his hands on mine! It's been a long time since I looked at his face up close in person, noticing all of the little spots and hairs and every tiny detail that I used to adoringly examine up close every day, all day long... it was so sad, but so wonderful – a strange twisted mix of feelings that no one in the real world would ever know.
He explained that it was very, very bad in SHU, "just like solitary confinement in the movies, truly that horrible". He's completely deprived of any human contact or fresh air or space. He has never been allowed out of his cell. Food is delivered through a slot in the door three times a day, take it or leave it (and Marc eats whatever they give; you have nothing else). Guards don't even open the doors for check-up; they just look through a tiny window in the door. It's 24-hour lockdown in a tiny little room with nothing but non-stop screaming and yelling from the other SHU inmates. "It's like a mental institution," he said. "It's absolutely maddening."
He has received some mail, but NOT ENOUGH, which is really disheartening for him (and for me – where are all of his fans?). He said that if his supporters are sincere and really care about him at all, they will SEND MAIL because that's the ONLY non-depressing part of every day. Everything else is dehumanizing. He is longing for some human contact, communication of any kind.
So please write a letter, print some articles from online, send pictures – note that you can't send a lot of photos at once, but apparently one or two at a time can come through to him in SHU. Send a photo of your protest sign, highway banner, or FREE MARC shirt, your family, your friends, anything positive (but nothing obviously illegal). He REALLY needs to hear from his supporters, so if you give a damn about Marc's well-being, you'll do the one thing possible to make him (and me) feel better: SEND HIM MAIL!
Throughout the visit, Marc and I lovingly stared into each others' eyes as we talked non-stop, with a few pauses to just take in the precious moments in each others' presence, to softly say, "Oh, I love you so much…" and "This is so wonderful". He said this visit and seeing me so close would last him for weeks, months – and how desperately I needed to hold his hands and kiss him, too! They can't take that away from us now! The last time we physically touched was the morning of May 10th, when he was ordered extradited by the Canadian Justice Minister Rob Nicholson and I said goodbye, thinking he would be out on bail later that day.
We talked about many other things, good and bad, the FREE MARC campaign, what he's going through, and what he expects from me and others. He really wants people to be more active in the campaign to have him sent home to Canada, and to end prohibition and free drug war prisoners everywhere (especially getting rid of the EVIL Conservative Government in Canada).
The two hours flew by, and I was sad to see it end. I'm so grateful we got to bathe in each others' admiration and incredible love, holding hands... He said he was so proud of me and he hopes he's still my hero (of course he is!), and that he wants people to keep working harder than ever to end this drug war.
One of the guards called his name, and we had to stand up. I hardly remember saying goodbye; we hugged each other and kissed again, but my mind was racing with the panicked thought of this being our last in-person visit for a long time... I said, "I love you Marc! You're my hero, my civil rights activist boo!" as I was led away, blowing kisses and wearing a brave smile. Seeing him sitting in the special SHU inmate chair, knowing he's going to be strip-searched and then taken back to that dark, tiny hell of a cell... locked away from any human contact, unable to call me or write except for letters that come a week later (and perhaps not even any mail in two weeks!).
It was so terribly sad to say goodbye, but he told me not to cry. We must be strong, no matter what comes. No one can take away our love for each other.
It will really help me feel better if supporters make a fuss about his utterly unjust treatment by telling the media and spreading the news online. Here's Marc’s current situation, how horrendous the conditions are, and how much worse it can possibly get:
Right now he's been in SHU for 2 full weeks (June 3rd-June 18th). In that time he has been refused phone calls to his US lawyer every day except once. Phone calls to lawyers are supposed to be a prisoner right, as outlined in the “Prisoner Rights” guide. He has had two or three visits with his lawyer, which has been really appreciated because it's a friendly human face, but that's just a short legal visit and doesn't have any real social elements to it.
It takes three hours for an inmate to be "prepped" for visits, including strip-searching and waiting in an empty processing room. Imagine not having anything at all to read or look at, for hours; just you and your thoughts. That’s what Marc goes through. He NEEDS to hear from people who know and care about him.
His disciplinary hearing will happen in 2 weeks or so, as inmates in SHU for violating rules must wait a month before they get their hearing (and remember, his rule violation that resulted in being sent to SHU wasn't explicitly stated in the manual!). ***June 20th correction: disciplinary hearings can take 3 MONTHS to happen, not one month!*** The prison hearing is an internal Federal Bureau of Prisons (FBOP) disciplinary process and has nothing to do with the legal system or inmates’ legal cases – which is why no lawyer is allowed to participate or intervene – and the ‘judge’ has already recommended that Marc lose his phone privileges for 6 MONTHS and be held in SHU for an additional 1 or 2 MONTHS!
The worst part is that if Marc is then 'sentenced' to another month or more in SHU, he will then have his radio taken away (that's one blessing he's had so far in SHU) and he will NOT be able to receive ANY commissary items – that means he won't be able to get any stamps or envelopes or paper, so he won't even be able to send me mail, which is the only way we are able to communicate.
This punishment is cruel, excessive and utterly unjust, but it happens every day to thousands of people all across America in this horrific drug war and imprisonment industry. Remember too that Marc is in prison not for violating drug laws, but for speaking his mind and leading a peaceful revolution of good, honest people. That is why he's a political prisoner, just as the DEA admitted after his arrest. And that is why we must FREE MARC EMERY and free all peaceful prisoners of the drug war: it's a violation of freedom of speech and freedom of choice.
I have to stress it again: sending Marc letters is so important. He can keep getting mail from us, even if we can’t get any from him. Just write about anything positive, your daily routine, your family and friends, your job, your hobbies, the news, activism – anything at all. The longer, the better, because he literally has NOTHING else to do!
For those of you who think, "I don't know how to write a letter," well, it's like writing a long Facebook comment/message, or an email. He misses that regular contact he used to get all the time! Just sit down and start typing away as though you're simply sending Marc a message on Facebook or through email. Express how you feel about things, what you’ve been doing, what you plan to do. Then print it off, get an envelope and stamp, and put it in a mailbox! It's the LEAST you can do, if you say you support Marc Emery. Please, send him mail. I need to know that my man is not forgotten!
I love you, Marc. I promise to never give up in our quest for personal liberty and freedom from oppression. As you said, “One person can undo the evil of several thousand people. You must never underestimate your power.”
Click HERE to help FREE MARC EMERY!
I finally got mail from Marc in solitary!
by Jodie Emery,
on Tuesday, 15 June 2010 01:33
It's Monday night, June 14th, and I still haven't heard Marc's voice since June 3rd. However, I did get mail from him today! Four letters (out of 6; he's numbered them) arrived and I was so thrilled to hear from him. Here's what he had to say.
He was put into "SHU" (Segregated Housing Unit) on Friday morning, June 4th, at 6:30am. He was not allowed to bring any personal belongings except for 10 photos from his collection of pictures, his radio headset, a pen, paper, envelopes, and a few stamps (so he won't be able to respond to everyone's letters while in SHU because he's sending me a letter every day, and I write to him every night). He has been given deodorant, shampoo, soap, shaving cream, two towels, an orange jumpsuit, socks, a t-shirt, and underwear. There is no pillow, so he made one from rolling up a blanket.
Marc is wondering if Americans and Canadians are doing enough, but only because he has no way of seeing or hearing about your efforts, so WRITE HIM A LETTER and let him know you're being active! He hopes that his American supporters are picking up their activism now that he's been put into solitary confinement. It's important that supporters organize days of protest, have a street-corner rally with signs that say "FREE MARC EMERY", "AMERICA MUST FREE MARC EMERY", and "GOOGLE MARC EMERY". It's simple and easy to do! And it means something, it shows you give a damn. That's so important.
While in "the hole", Marc said he's going to plan out the 100 chapters of the book he's going to write. Anyone who has spent even 15 minutes with Marc knows that he has endless fascinating, funny, witty, touching and insightful real-life stories and experiences, so his book will be an excellent collection of his best writings!
The worst part of being in SHU is that "the other inmates are always yelling like hyenas, all day, to others in other cells. They are allowed to yowl all day, which is headache-inducing. They do it for hours."
Marc is frustrated by the fact he's being punished for the "pot-cast" we never even shared. "In my rule book, it never says podcasts or recordings are forbidden, and the rules here are written exactly the same as the North Fraser remand in BC, and I did podcasts form there... Also in my rulebook it says that all inmates can communicate with media. Well, podcasts are considered social media, certainly media, so that's a lie."
Mail and photos are VERY welcome right now! Marc is grateful for the letters he has received (11 on one day, 7 on the other, but that was a week ago – I hope mail keeps coming!). One thing about mail is that he really wants to hear people explaining what they've done for the FREE MARC campaign, what kind of activism you've been doing. Marc doesn't get to have any of the books from his previous cell, so he has very little reading material.
He does get the New York Times every day (I subscribed him to it; though Saturday and Sunday's editions come on Mondays) and the Seattle Times a day or two late. "I have read every single article in the blessed NY Times of Friday while positioning my body to get every bit of the strong rays of the sun coming in". That's one positive change: Marc's cell now gets a tiny bit of sunlight in it, which he never saw while in general population. "I have a little 6-inch by 4-foot window that the sun shines through from 8:00am to, so far, 10:25am."
"When the yowling and yelling in the other cells gets to be just to annoying (I can effectively ignore it most of the day) I put on my earphones (without music) and it muffles them. If it's really annoying, I put on classic rock 102.5 KZOK or the all-news station." He would love to hear songs requested for him! Here's a song request list:
- Hold Your Head Up, by Argent
- Limelight, by Rush
- Tom Sawyer, by Rush
- Something for Nothing, by Rush
- I don't need no doctor, by Humble Pie
- One toke over the line, by Brewer and Shipley
- Ohio, by Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young
- Revolution, by the Beatles
- Operator, bu Jim Croce
- In a godda da vida, by Iron Butterfly
- When the levee breaks, by Led Zeppelin
- Eye of the Tiger, by Survivor
His routine is very uneventful. He wakes up to breakfast at 7:30am (delivered to his cell), such as cornflakes, milk, and an orange. Then he showers and uses the bathroom. Lunch comes at 11am. He writes that it's spaghetti with tomato and meat sauce, and two big blobs of boiled spinach, which "has a texture and is what I imagine seaweed would taste like". He has a "spork", which is a spoon-fork, and no knife.
He writes to me every day, usually throughout that day, and listens to classic rock (The Led Zeppelin hour, and Beatles hour, are particular favorites). Dinner arrives around 4:30pm. The sun doesn't shine into his cell after noon passes, but he can still see outside, where hundreds and hundreds of cars are parked, vehicles of all the staff used by the prison to oversee the punishment (and basic survival) of mostly drug offenders. Prisons create so much work in the USA, it's madness.
Marc tries to keep his teeth in good shape, but there's no floss in the SHU, so he wrote "I thought I was being brilliant when I used some loose strands of cotton from my towel to use as dental floss, but now some of it is stuck in my teeth. Not so brilliant. Now to try and dislodge it. Live and learn."
He does some push-ups, and walks back and forth for an hour a day for exercise. He sleeps a lot because there's nothing else to do! The only advantage is the privacy, and the little bit of sunlight, but everything else is pretty bad. He writes that it's difficult not knowing anything; does anyone know he's in solitary? Have I contacted our lawyer and the media? Are people still being active and campaigning for his return to Canada? He wonders all that because there's no way of knowing...
He gets mail from me a week after I send it, and I get his mail almost 2 weeks after he sends letters, so it's always a delayed update between us. But any news is good news, because at least I get to see his hand-written words, and read about how he's feeling and what he's doing, and that is so much better than not knowing anything at all.
It's incredibly difficult to not know anything about your loved one while locked up in solitary confinement. I cried more over the last few days than I have since he was extradited, because it was so painful missing him and worrying about him, not knowing anything at all about his condition and welfare. But as long as I keep busy and everyone else keeps busy and we all keep safe, then he'll be okay. He'll take care of himself, we just need to take care of the movement...
FREE MARC EMERY!
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