EK Statement on Brandon Baxter of the Cleveland 4

“I don’t normally write men political prisoners because I have had bad
experiences… but I hear you are safe”

I cannot tell you how many letters I get that open this way. Stories of
unwanted sexual conversation, requests for photos and attempts to start
relationships. It is not difficult to not violate women. I do it every
day when responding to letters.
A question for men in our community….Why are we being such creeps?

I remember the first time a female comrade called me out. I was in high
school and it was over me being a creep about a facebook picture. I
thought I was being funny or cute and made a comment that didn’t seem
out of line to me at all..She didn’t call me out in front of everyone,
instead just replied to my message, ”Eric I thought we were friends,
you are making me feel less”. This one sentence stays with me still
today because I never again wanted to ever make someone feel that way,
whether we were comrades, friends, partners, anything. That sentence
changed my entire life because it was the first chance to hold myself
accountable, to look at myself and see a chance to grow. We didn’t have
the language to express what was really happening, I was being a
patriarchal creep, that’s the reality..but she knew I was making her
feel less, and that was enough, that should ALWAYS be enough. That
chance to grow didn’t end in highschool, it didn’t end when I turned 20
or 30..this is a continual growth, a continual re-evaluation of what is
ok and what isn’t. Even now when my partner lovingly calls me out on
being patriarchal, I listen and take it very seriously, so that I don’t
ever make someone feel ”less” ever again. There is no perfection here,
there is no finished product, but there is a desire to always do better
and to always grow.

What I am seeing right now from certain people and parts of the radical
community, the MALE political prisoner community, makes me absolutely
sick to my fucking stomach. In prison you may find yourself having to do
things to survive that make you feel uncomfortable or gross, and that
sucks. But there is NEVER a reason to hurt, manipulate, lie to, bash,
coerce, trick, or in general be greasy to female supporters (or any
supporters really). Being a political prisoner does not entitle you to
be a misogynistic, manipulative piece of shit. Having support isn’t a
license to take advantage of people’s feelings or solidarity, to use
them for your own purposes. It isn’t ok in the streets, it isn’t ok
behind bars. We need to walk our talk on this issue, at least I do. We
need to call out the people who act this way, or think this is ok.

Brandon from the Cleveland 4 has done all those things listed above and
more, admittedly and purposely.  When given the chance to do the right
thing, to be held accountable, not only did he reject those options but
instead he chose to victim blame. He has done major harm to different
women in the community who tried to support him. And since that is the
case, I want nothing to do with this guy. I don’t want to be associated
with him in any way, and that includes being associated with people who
still condone or apologize for him. If you have romanticized prison to
the extent to where you think this behavior is okay just because he has
been oppressed, then please lose my address.

How we treat each other isn’t a game.  The women in our community still
have to deal with rampant patriarchy and sexism and still have to deal
with being called liars and exaggerates when they speak up. I bet we all
know of a hushed story about a man in our community who has problematic
behavior towards women. When these behaviors are silenced it just puts
more women in danger of experiencing them. This isn’t the future I want;
this isn’t how I want our revolution to look like. I stand with our
female comrades and I know many many others do as well, and when we see
behavior like this, we need to work on it, and if that isn’t seen as an
option, then we need to smash it out. We need to start saying these
things out loud, and as men it’s time for US to start holding each other
accountable and stop relying on femme folks to do the emotional labor of

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