May 29, 2023
In this episode we welcome Orisanmi Burton back to the podcast.
For this conversation, we discuss Dr. Burton’s latest article, “Targeting Revolutionaries: The Birth of the Carceral Warfare Project, 1970 – 1978.” Which he describes as a supplement to his forthcoming book, Tip of the Spear: Black Radicalism, Prison Repression, and the Long Attica Revolt. This piece was recently published in the May issue of Radical History Review which is on Political Imprisonment and Confinement.
In this discussion we pick up on our previous episode with Orisanmi Burton on carceral warfare. Here Burton talks about the role of Black Panther and Black Liberation Army veteran and former political prisoner Dhoruba bin Wahad’s role in illuminating and analyzing the FBI’s little known Prison Activists Surveillance Program (PRISACTS). Burton situates this program amid a broad set of counterinsurgency programs which operated in multiple theaters of war both internationally and domestically. Burton illustrates how within this international terrain of counterrevolutionary war, figures slipped between various programs, moving between military, intelligence, private defense contract, and domestic law enforcement and prison systems. Importantly, Burton reminds us that many state actors, including congressional bodies, presidents and governors recognized a threat of revolutionary activity in the streets in the 1960’s and by the late 60’s and early 70’s they understood there to be a threat of revolutionary activity behind prison walls as well. To respond, they sought to use programs like PRISACTS to specifically undermine incarcerated revolutionaries. The legacy of this struggle offers a great deal to help us understand the role of US prisons today as sites of domestic warfare.
Just a note that there is a second portion of this conversation which we hope to release at a later date. It is briefly referenced in the opening question. Currently we are just waiting for the publication of that second article.
Tip of the Spear: Black Radicalism, Prison Repression, and the Long Attica Revolt is available for pre-order you can find a link for that in the show notes. And the publisher does have a 40% off sale that goes through the end of May. I can’t wait to have more discussion on that book upon its release.
This is our 7th episode of the month of May. We are still behind on our goal for the month. As of publication today we need 7 more patrons to hit that goal. You can become a patron of the show for as little as $1 a month or $10.80 per year at patreon.com/millennialsarekillingcapitalism.
Links to references from the episode:
You can pre-order Tip of the Spear at UC Press. It is 40% off through the end of May (with the promo code May40)