underground since'89

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tobi vail P.O. Box 2572 Olympia, WA 98507 USA

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Saturday, August 18, 2012

Pussy Riot is extremely radical...

On Friday August 16 three members of Pussy Riot were sentenced to two years in a work camp for "hooliganism motivated by religious hatred" for playing a protest song in a church, becoming overnight media sensations all over the world.

Also on Friday Pussy Riot released a new song calling for revolution:

This weekend social networking sites are full of people talking about Pussy Riot.

Why is this such a huge news story right now?

What does it mean that this case has momentum behind it while others don't?

Why this particular struggle and not another at this historical moment in time?

What is the geopolitical meaning of Pussy Riot advocacy?

Some legitimate critiques & points are being made. Others seem to miss the mark.

Asking questions and engaging in critical dialogue is crucial but let us not forget the point:

Pussy Riot is extremely radical.

The fact that they are experiencing their 15 minutes of fame does not change that.

Advocacy from celebrities & western governments/organizations/feminists with their own agenda does not change that.

Let's be humble for a minute and listen to how Pussy Riot & Putin's opposition define issues in order to figure out how we can support their struggle.

Lastly, oppression is not a competition. We all come from different places of privilege and oppression but that doesn't mean we can't work together.

The local and the global are connected.

Feminist solidarity across borders!

Social Justice not retributive justice!

Free Pussy Riot and all political prisoners!


Thursday, August 9, 2012

Happy Birthday Katya

Dear Katya,

I don't know if you will get this message but I want to write and say Happy Birthday from all of the (old and new) riot grrls and punks in Olympia, WA (who now live all over). We are thinking about you today and have been trying to figure out a way to support you through solidarity work and talking to the press.

I read your statement this morning in English and watched it live in Russian on the internet at 2am. It is incredibly articulate and clear. If anything this trial and your arrest are giving people in the west an education about Russian history, politics and culture.

It is tricky to give words of support without perpetuating the idea that the US is somehow superior to Russia. I disagree that our society is free. Our criminal justice system is racist, classist and punitive. We have one of the biggest prison systems in the history of the world. The death penalty is legal here. People of color are discriminated against and oppressed by the prison industrial complex. There is a prison abolition movement here, which I support.

Political prisoners exist here too. Anyone called a "terrorist" or an anarchist is treated unfairly. At the end of July the FBI raided punk houses in Olympia and Portland looking for anarchists. There is something here called The Green Scare, which we can talk about later, but basically it means people are persecuted for their political affiliations. Additionally, cops beat and jail non-violent anti-war protesters regularly. Activists who protest political conventions are also beaten and jailed. Members of the Occupy movement have been arrested and victimized by police brutality.

Also, as I wrote about in my statement, sexism and sexist oppression exist here as does homophobia and heterosexism - so more than not - I feel we have a common struggle. It is terrible that you are in prison but your unjust imprisonment creates a moral basis for international solidarity. I hope this means the struggle will grow into an international one.

Happy Birthday Katya, we are thinking of you today and hope you will be set free.


Tobi Vail Olympia, WA