Black Lives Matter Philly announces a seed grant of $35,000 for the Brick by Brick Freedom Fund for Political Prisoners, which it has expanded to include a legal defense fund for newly targeted political prisoners such as Ant Smith. The overall campaign goal for the fund is $520,000.
This year at the end of Black August, a month dedicated to honoring Black resistance and the struggles of political prisoners, Black Lives Matter Philly in collaboration with the Abolitionist Law Center and the Philadelphia chapter of The Jericho Movement launched the Brick by Brick Freedom Fund to support ten current Pennsylvania political prisoners and the surviving members of The Move 9, who were released after more than forty years of political imprisonment between 2018-2020. The launch of the fund embodies BLM Philly’s commitment to continuing the work of our movement elders and political prisoners, whose struggles and immense sacrifices have directly benefited our communities. “We are thankful for the return of our elders, and generally in awe of their strength and determination in remaining committed to freedom despite their incarceration. We created the Brick by Brick fund because we have a duty to be here for them considering how they fought for us. We are continuing in this same spirit of resistance and revolution because they showed us the way,” explains Ansharaye Hines of Black Lives Matter Philly.
In October, Ant Smith, a beloved member of our organizing community was targeted by the federal government and arrested based on groundless, unsubstantiated charges, which signals that the state is seeking to create a new generation of political prisoners. In order to support our comrade and to prepare for this expanded form of warfare against our righteous fight for freedom, we are expanding the scope of our fundraising efforts to support former and current political prisoners in order to include new targets for political imprisonment. As a result, the Brick by Brick Freedom Fund campaign goal has doubled from $260,000 to $520,000. The additional funds will be used to provide immediate support for Ant Smith and other comrades currently facing charges related to the recent uprisings, as well as to help the organizing community prepare for the legal defense of those who may be targeted by the state for resisting.
One of the ten political prisoners behind the walls for whom we are raising funds is Mumia Abu Jamal, the inspiration behind the chant that inspired the name of our campaign: “Brick by brick, wall by wall, we gonna free Mumia Abu Jamal.” Mumia tells us that every prisoner is a political prisoner, having been subjected to the injustices of an oppressive social structure and the conditions which facilitate the incarceration of masses of Black people. Mumia teaches us that we must truly fight to free them all. In a recent press conference on November 16th, former professional football player and activist Colin Kaepernick stated, “We’re in the midst of a movement that says Black Lives Matter. If that is the case, then Mumia’s life and freedom must matter. Even while living in the hells of the prison system, Mumia still fights for our human rights. We must continue to fight for him and his human rights.” The Brick by Brick Freedom Fund reflects our commitment to free all political prisoners and to abolish prisons and all the carceral systems of white supremacy. Our effort to provide resources and support to those who are imprisoned and targeted because of their tireless sacrifices to our collective liberation is one way we do this.
Black Lives Matter Philly is proud to contribute $35,000 to the Brick by Brick Freedom Fund to jumpstart this campaign, as we join with fellow organizers to support Ant Smith, former and current political prisoners, and our broader revolutionary community. We invite you to join this effort to support political prisoners in the state of Pennsylvania, who have sacrificed their freedom for the cause of justice, and current freedom fighters by donating to and amplifying the Brick by Brick Freedom Fund. Direct financial donations can be made at the BLM Philly fundraising platform. Official Brick by Brick Fundraiser merchandise can be purchased at Teespring https://blm-philly.myteespring.co/ and all proceeds will go to the Freedom Fund campaign. Additional ways to support and partner with this campaign will be announced in the future.
Generations of Black freedom fighters have committed their lives to the struggle, and it is now our turn to support them in securing and sustaining their freedom. Executive director of the Abolitionist Law Center, Robert Saleem Holbrook states, “The very issues we are fighting for today on the streets, [political prisoners] were fighting for years ago — police violence, mass incarceration, civil and human rights violations. My question is when are we going to fight for them — Mumia Abu Jamal, Russell ‘Maroon’ Shoatz, Joseph Bowen? It’s time for them to come home.”
Brick by Brick, Wall by Wall
We’re gonna Free Mumia Abu Jamal
We’re gonna Free Russell Maroon Shoatz
We’re gonna Free Joseph “Joe Joe” Bowen
We’re gonna Free Dawud Lee
We’re gonna Free Arthur Cetawayo Johnson
We’re gonna Free Kerry Shakaboona Marshall
We’re gonna Free Safir Chuma Asafo
We’re gonna Free Fred “Muhammad” Burton
We’re gonna Free Bryant Arroyo
We’re gonna Free Dennis Solo McKeithen