In the 2014 Certain Days calendar, political prisoner David Gilbert wrote that the “War on Crime” which began in the early 1970s was in fact a conscious government counterinsurgency strategy to decimate and disrupt Black and other people of color communities across the United States.
In this pamphlet, interviewed by Bob Feldman, David uses this observation as his starting point to discuss the ongoing catastrophe that is mass incarceration, connecting it to the continued imprisonment of political prisoners and the challenges that face our movements today. This interview was conducted by mail in March 2014, by Bob Feldman. A shorter ...........READ MORE
David Gilbert, a longtime anti-racist and anti-imperialist, first became active in the Civil Rights movement in 1961. In 1965, he started the Vietnam Committee at Columbia University; in 1967 he co-authored the first Students for a Democratic Society pamphlet naming the system “imperialism”; and he was active in the Columbia strike of 1968. He went on to spend a total of 10 years underground, building a clandestine resistance.
David has been imprisoned in New York State since 10/20/81, when a unit of the Black Liberation Army along with allied white revolutionaries tried to get funds for the struggle by robbing ...........READ MORE
This interview originally appeared in Sixties: A Journal of History, Politics and Culture, 5:2, 259-270. For a PDF of the interview, go here. Arab Spring, Occupy Wall Street, and Mass Incarceration: An Interview on Contemporary Social Movements with David Gilbert
David Gilbert interviewed by Dan Berger, 2012
In the 1960s and 1970s, many activists looked to the prisons for political leadership, while viewing prisons themselves as institutions of repression and social control integral to larger systems of oppression. Around the world, the prisoner emerged as an icon of state repression and a beacon of liberation. If the prison served ...........READ MORE
In the 1960s it was common for protesters on the streets to get their ideas right through the bars–from the fiery scribes of the prison revolutionaries like George Jackson, Eldridge Cleaver and Malcolm X. Now, in a fresh 21st century when everything including prisons are morphing, prison revolutionaries are still tugging on our coatsleeves. These two writings are alike in being strong-minded, in being anti-imperialist, but ...........READ MORE
AIDS – which can so heartlessly take people away in their prime of life – is the lethal scourge of our day, and it is still light years away from being brought under control. This epidemic seems to have an uncanny knack for attacking people that the dominant society considers “undesirable”: gays, injection drug users (IDUs), and prisoners. And AIDS has increasingly become a grim reaper in the Black and Latino communities within the U.S. and among Third World people internationally.
QUESTION: On October 6, 1983 you were sentenced to a minimum of 75 years and a maximum of life in prison. How do you feel about facing life in prison?
I certainly don’t like being in prison, but it would be worse if I had lost my commitment to fight a system which is such an incredible destroyer of human life and dignity. As for the 75 years, well imperialism isn’t going to last that long. Nor do I think I will spend my natural life in prison. A revolutionary can be killed, inside our outside, but if we are ...........READ MORE