Kite Line is a radio program devoted to prison issues around the Midwest and beyond. Behind the prison walls, a message is called a kite: whispered words, a note passed hand to hand, or a request submitted to the guards for medical care. Illicit or not, sending a kite means trusting that other people will bear it farther along till it reaches its destination. On the show, we hope to pass along words across the prison walls.
January 27, 2023: The Problem is Policing Itself
This week, we reflect on the complex lethality of the white supremacist system in the United States, as it has dealt out death to Black people and others whose lives are devalued within this system.
We are responding to the release of the footage earlier this week of Tyre Nichols’ murder by Memphis police, which has led to a profusion of shallow statements by politicians and police chiefs, who seem palpably afraid that this brutal killing might trigger another movement like the 2020 George Floyd Uprising.
But we are also still digesting and mourning the murder by Atlanta police of forest defender, Tortuguita, and the death of IDOC Watch co-founder and Kite Line contributor, Angaza Iman Bahar, in Indianapolis two weeks ago. The movement to defend the Atlanta forest has demonstrated the possibility of militantly responding to police murder while simultaneously challenging police media spin.
It has been harder to immediately challenge Angaza’s death, which is the tragic result of being sucked into street violence, but later in this episode, we share a moving tribute and political analysis made by Angaza’s longterm comrade inside Indiana’s prisons, Shaka Shakur.
Below are links to some of our episodes with Angaza, Shaka, and Max:
January 20, 2023: A Police Murder in the Atlanta Forest
Today, we share the tragic news that police killed Tortuguita, a forest defender in the South River Forest in Atlanta on the morning of Wednesday, January 19th.
We have previously covered the movement to protect the Atlanta forest in light of its history as a plantation and prison farm and the future plans to build a vast police training center. Our correspondent spoke with Sarah from the Atlanta Anti-Repression Committee, who filled us in on the state of the movement, this week's violent police raid on the forest camps, Tortuguita's death, and next steps.
As she says, the movement's slogan, that "cop city will never be built" seems more true today than ever before, as an outpouring of grief and anger sweeps the country in the wake of this murder.
We also include a roundup of monthly prison disturbances as compiled by Perilous Chronicle.
January 13, 2023: Sex Work at the Birth of the Ghetto
We are pleased to continue sharing a conversation between Micol Seigel and Anne Gray Fischer. Fischer’s powerful book, The Streets Belong to Us: Sex, Race, and Police Power from Segregation to Gentrification, was published in 2022, and is an account of gender and sexuality’s crucial role in the history and exercise of police power. In this conversation, Fischer and Seigel discuss the archive and research at the foundation of the book and its relationship to wider abolitionist organizing. They work through the relationship between sex work and vice policing, aimed primarily at womens’ bodies, along with race, which allowed wide swathes of Black neighborhoods to be treated as red light districts, subject to intensified police surveillance and violence. Fischer shows that vice policing was key to developing the American ghetto, as well as its devastating effects on Black people.
January 6, 2023: Policing Womens’ Bodies
We are pleased to share the first part of an interview between Anne Gray Fischer and Micol Siegel. Fischer's powerful first book, The Streets Belong to Us: Sex, Race, and Police Power from Segregation to Gentrification, was published earlier in 2022, and is an account of gender and sexuality's crucial role in the history and exercise of police power. In this conversation, the first of two we will present on Kite Line, Fischer and Siegel discuss the context of the book and its relationship to wider abolitionist research. They also work through the relationship between vice policing, aimed primarily at womens' bodies, and race, which allowed wide swathes of Black neighborhoods to be treated as red light districts and subject to intensified police surveillance and violence.
December 30, 2022: In Memory of Russell Maroon Shoatz
December 17th marked two years since the passing of Russell Maroon Shoatz.
He was a founding member of the Black Unity Council, a former member of the Black Panther Party and a soldier in the Black Liberation Army. After twice escaping from prison, and twice being recaptured, Shoatz was held in solitary confinement for more than 22 years. This solitary confinement was controversial — while Shoatz had successfully escaped twice, he actually had an excellent record of behavior within the prison itself. Advocates and Shoatz himself argued that his extended solitary confinement reflected the personal offense taken by prison officials, who were embarrassed both by his ease in escaping, and his sharp critiques of the American prison system.
Shoatz is remembered today as, among other things, a well-respected author. One famous essay, The Dragon and The Hydra, is widely available online. Listeners interested in honoring the anniversary of Shoatz’ passing but unfamiliar with his work may find this essay insightful, short, and accessible, as a history of one important aspect of revolutionary organizing.
This episode we’ll share a previously aired interview with Shoatz, recorded on August 15th 1996, at State Correctional Institution-Greene in Pennsylvania. The interview was originally aired on the Peoples Video Network, and was conducted by Dhoruba Bin Wahad.
December 23, 2022: It was a Normal Day for Us, and He Just Disappeared
This week, we speak again with Isaiah Willoughby. Last time he was on the show, he reflected on being incarcerated due to the 2020 George Floyd Uprising. He was released from prison last March, but he's now housed once again in SeaTac Federal Detention Center on a parole violation. It took three separate calls to complete this interview: calls in the facility are limited to ten minutes, and prisoners must wait an hour in between each call. Because of this, prisoners line up waiting for their turn to make a phone call. He tells us about his re-entry experience, which are issues with returning to the outside world that many people face after incarceration. He talks about the murder of his friend Manny at the hands of police. The police who killed Manny are currently out on bail, and their trial is set for September 2023. Isaiah ends by explaining his civil case against SeaTac Federal Detention Center.
You can hear the first episode with Isaiah here: https://www.kitelineradio.org/podcast/296-words-from-an-incarcerated-blm-demonstrator/
Informational and Engrossing
Everyone should listen to this podcast.. it’ll open your eyes to the prison system, and to US American systems of injustice in general.
Best prisoner podcast hands down
I LOVE kiteline! It’s a woman-made syndicated radio program. They are so easy to listen to. Kiteline features interviews with prisoners, activists and professors which are as often funny and inspiring as they are sobering and sad. Interviews are paired with historical and sociological lessons on prison issues.
If only more people listened to this podcast and heard the stories of how prisons abuse their power. This podcast through interviews with scholars and people struggling in the system show the disastrous effects and harm produced by our prison system. Anyone interested in prison abolition should listen to this podcast.