Prisoner Rights Project

 by Krista Lee

Activism@GMC is one of the most popular clubs on campus and is open and inclusive to the entire campus community, as are all of our events. Activism@GMC runs by focus groups this year, which means that there are a series of groups that meet outside of meeting times to organize events, workshops, documentary screenings, literature sharing, and other activities all with the focus to promote education around topics of social and environmental justice. Each focus group has one or two “point people” that make sure the groups are meeting and the group is active. The groups report back during our club meetings and all the club members support and attend all the events that the focus groups put on. Some examples of events that Activism@GMC has put on this semester have been the Take Back the Night March & Candlelight vigil for survivors of sexual and domestic assault, the Northeast Anarchist Symposium, weekly documentary screenings, 1 in 3 campaign to destigmatize abortion (handing out pins and information in Withey), and many others!

Cate Merfeld is the point person for a prisoner rights group through Activism@GMC. She has cooked and attended dinner with the Rutland Dismas House with Marsha Fonteyn and other GMC students this semester. The Dismas House is a residential community for former prisoner and college students that have meals with community members every day of the week. It is an amazing project that is based on community support and we highly recommend that you get involved with the Dismas House! http://www.dismasofvermont.org/vdhr.htm

A big part of the prisoner rights group is letter writing to prisoners, and the main organization that the focus group uses is Black and Pink which has a focus on LGBTQ prisoners.

Cate Merfeld said that by writing letters to people currently in prison is an eye-opening experience and helps one realize and appreciate their own freedoms in everyday life. “Understanding that you might be the only person that your pen-pal talks to outside of prison really shows the difference that individuals can make by writing and becoming pen-pals with someone who is currently going through a difficult time” says Cate.

“It is already difficult for queer people to find a supportive community in the world outside of prison, and I can’t imagine what it would be like in a prison environment. There is probably even more prejudice against queer people in that environment, it is important to reach out and be that support system” –Jesse Winings.

“Our goal is liberation. We have a radical view of the fight for justice: We are feminist. We are anti-racist. We want queer liberation. And we are against capitalism. Prisons are part of the system that oppresses and divides us. By building a movement and taking action against this system of violence, we will create the world we dream of. We also celebrate the beauty of what exists now: Our love for each other. The strength of our planet. Our incredible resiliency. All of the power we have to continue existing. While dreaming and struggling for a better world, we commit to living in the present.” –Black and Pink

Go to http://www.blackandpink.org/ to get a pen pal and come to Activism@GMC meetings every Wednesday at 7pm in Moses Writers Lounge to get more involved! 


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