My name is Sean Swain and I’m speaking to you from a payphone at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville Ohio, the site of the longest prisoner uprising in US history*. I currently reside in the block where that uprising began, L5 and my cell still has the scorch marks on the walls from more than twenty years ago. I think the authorities leave the burn marks to remind all of us prisoners that they won.
But, when I see those burn marks on their walls, I only think of possibilities. I have to warn you before we go any further that I am a “unique security threat”. It was a federal court who recently gave me that designation: “unique security threat” using those exact words.
I’m not just your run-of-the-mill maximum security prisoner, I’m a special category of prisoner who may be subjected to a regimen of restrictions without so much as being accused of violating prison rules. I’m such a unique threat that my communications can be subject to a lifetime ban in anticipation of what I might say about the state terrorists who hold me hostage and occasionally torture me.
Also, you should know that the Fascist Bozos of Ineptitude (FBI) generated 1,297 pages of investigative files on me during the course of my imprisonment. I’m one of my favorite topics, and I write about myself quite frequently, but I can’t think of 1,297 pages to write about me. So that means the FBI knows more about me that I do. My file is available from the FBI as a three-disk set that costs $40. That’s roughly the same as the Sex Pistol’s box set. If ever you have a choice between the two, I would suggest you can’t go wrong with the Sex Pistols.
But, I digress. My point of course is that I’m a unique security threat, and I’m a unique security threat not for what I do with my fists and my feet, because the fascist police state has easy methods for containing those. I’m a unique security threat for what I do with my head. My thoughts, my ideas, the things I articulate, those are the things that make me a unique security threat, because the fascist police have found thoughts and ideas harder to contain than fists a feet.
Also it’s important to point out, I think, that the fascist police state isn’t concerned so much with my communication of ideas to fellow prisoners. I don’t use these monitored communications systems to communicate to prisoners. I use them to communicate with you.
So, look, here’s my agenda. I have to find a way to stop being a unique security threat in order to lesson my odds of getting tortured again. I have to stop being a unique security threat in order to get home to hug my elderly parents. Being a unique security threat makes me vulnerable to repression by state terrorists. My uniqueness makes me a singular target. They can focus the full force of their terror operation on me.
My fear and dread of facing potential torture in the future compels me to find some way to stop being unique in the present. If only I can find a way to inspire and persuade others, like you perhaps to become security threats, either equal to the threat I pose, or superior to the threat I pose, I would stop being a unique security threat. I would just be one of hundreds or one of thousands, or even one of tens of thousands of ubiquitous security threats.
So that’s my agenda. To create ubiquitous security threats. Thousands with thoughts and ideas just as dangerous as my own. That’s what I have to do to avoid getting tortured again.
That’s quite a daunting mission isn’t it? I hope I’m up to it.
If I succeed, at the very least, state terrorists will have their hands so full dealing with all of you security threats that they’ll forget about me and leave me alone. Best case scenario: their entire power structure will collapse, the nightmare will end and we can all go back to living in ways that make sense, absent the oppressor.
So, if the state terror asshole with the headphones monitoring this communication is distracted by his donuts and coffee and doesn’t hit the kill switch, I’m going to share some ideas and thoughts to hopefully create ubiquitous security threats out of you. I hope you’re down with that.
I think the process of creating ubiquitous security threats should begin with an observation. Information is power. Kind of a no brainier, as far as observations go, huh? Yeah, information is power. That’s why they’ve got security cameras everywhere. That’s why they click through all of your emails. That’s why a dozen government agencies have a digital recording of your call before you ever even hear it. Information is power and your enemy, my enemy, our enemy is constantly collecting information.
So, what do we know about them?
Information is power. Now, I’m going to be talking about the prison industrial complex specifically, and the state terrorists who run it, but what I’m saying really applies universally to all the institutions of the fascist police state. And really, to the corporate profiteers who pull the strings. So really, what I’m proposing has a vast array of broad applications.
But, back to our question: what do we know about them? If you’re a prison abolitionist, or if you’re a prisoner rights advocate, wherever you’re from, do you know where the prisons are physically located? That’s pretty easy to find out. It’s public information. Now, those prisons have parking lots. Those parking lots contain the vehicles of prison workers, guards, staff, administrators.
Often the Warden’s spot is marked with a sign that says “Warden”.
All of those cars are located in a public parking lot. Whoever you are, you can drive right in. At shift change, for instance you’d witness two shifts of prison workers coming and going. Do you have a cell phone camera? Almost everyone these days has a cell phone camera. Faces. License plates. With a plate number and a friend at the Bureau of Motor vehicles you can obtain home addresses and all kinds of information.
If you don’t have a friend at the Bureau of Motor Vehicles you can wait in a lot down the street, pull into traffic and follow people home. Information is power.
The same goes for administrators in the Central Office of any state prisons system. Their parking lots are not located in some alternate universe. These people who employ torture are parked right there. They drive home to spouses and kids and family dogs. They work for a terrorist state that collects information on you. What are you doing to collect information on them?
I can tell you right now for an absolute fact that what I’m proposing to you is the state terrorists’ worst nightmare. They torture their captives. They tortured me, knowing they would never be held accountable by their fascist supervisors or their oversight committees or by media investigations, or federal courts. All the institutions of the fascist police state are accomplices in their crimes against humanity. In fact the instance of torture and continuation of state terror occur in the confidence that no one will do anything about it. Their arrogance so far is well founded.
I recall during the year of prolonged torture at Mansfield Correctional the day that my cell mate Black Jack stood up and passed out. He hit the floor. We had suffered starvation rations for months, had each lost roughly 30% of our body weight, and Black Jack passed out due to malnutrition. That was the day I became convinced that we might actually die. Our captors might actually kill us.
I had a website of updates. I had written letters to the legislative oversight committees. I had a lawyer protesting my treatment. I had hundreds writing letters and making calls and I was convinced that none of that would change conditions. That Black Jack and I might die despite ALL of that.
Now, to contrast, just as a matter of practicality, I urge you to imagine what would have happened to our conditions, if instead of letters and calls to lawyers and online updates if one, just one of the state terrorists involved in the terror program would have gotten up for work one morning and stepped out of his or her tasteful suburban home to find his or her car ablaze with SeanSwain.org spray painted across the cracked windshield.
I’m not sure, but I bet just that single event would have gotten Black Jack and me an extra scoop of potatoes at lunch. If not, there are always other nights and other cars.
Now, sure there’s a degree of risk for those involved and that risk varies according to the planning and execution. Also keep in mind we’re not talking about a risk taken to rectify one instance of mistreatment. We’re talking about an action that would alter the operation of the terror complex completely.
Now, if something like that had happened in response to Black Jack’s and my torture—it didn’t, so this is just a theoretical pondering—but if something like that had happened, the state could only put squad cars at the residences of state terrorists for a short time. In Ohio, for example, there are something like 30 prisons. That equals 30 wardens, 30 majors, 90 deputy wardens, hundreds of captains and lieutenants and captains and sergeants and guards, too many to dedicate squad cars for protection of their homes night after night indefinitely. They couldn’t possibly be protected from a ubiquitous security threat, so chances are they would have changed their low-down ways. State terrorists would realize there would be direct and serious consequences for torturing their captives, as their should be.
It really boils down to a kind of operant conditioning. If you torture us, we’ll light your cars and houses on fire. If you stop, we’ll stop. It’s a consequence of the operant conditioning. You get the behavior you’re looking for, whether it’s an end to torture, or an end to the prison complex entirely.
It would be preferable of course if you could simply ask rationally, perhaps through a grievance process or correspondence to a legislative committee, or through civil litigation in federal court, but non violent appeals to reason and fairness are a completely foreign language to hierarchs. You may as well be speaking Portuguese.
So to change anything you have to let cans of gasoline be your verbs and let matches be your nouns. It’s unfortunate, but it’s true.
Soon there’ll be a website online that posts profiles of state terrorists along with message boards where visitors to the site can leave anonymous comments, including perhaps information about each of the profiled state terrorists. Information is power.
I think I’ll stop there. When this monitored call is over I’ll go back to my cell with the scorch marks covering the walls and I’ll think of the possibilities. This is anarchist prisoner Sean Swain from the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville. If you’re listening, you are the resistance.
* The Lucasville Uprising in 1993 was not the longest prison uprising in US, history, it was the longest in which people died.