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Dear Supporters of Brandon.

Deadline extended to October 10th!

Dear Supporters of Brandon,

Below is information for writing a letter to the President of the United States in support of Brandon Baxter’s clemency petition. Brandon’s current sentence is to serve 9 years and 9 months in prison, to be followed by supervised release for life; his clemency petition will ask that his sentence be commuted to time served in prison, to be followed by supervised release for a maximum of five years.

If you are able to write a supporting letter, please email a scanned copy of the letter (typed and signed) to cleveland4letters@gmail.com by September 20th.  We will pass the letters on to his attorney to submit them with the clemency petition, and you can also let us know if you have any questions that we'll forward to his attorney.

Letter Format
DATE
GREETING: Dear President of the United States: BODY OF LETTER:

- Briefly discuss yourself – who you are, your position in work or your role in the community, and any points which could establish your ability to advise the President about why Brandon’s clemency petition should be granted.

- If you know Brandon personally and can offer some personal observations, you will want to mention this in your letter. It would be helpful to include descriptions of Brandon’s character, compassion, integrity, accomplishments, interests, education, family life, interaction with and treatment of other people, and your personal and/or professional relationship with him. Is he compassionate? Generous? Thoughtful towards others? Trustworthy? Hard worker? Good friend? Committed to making the world a better place? Explain why you think this way about him.

- When talking about Brandon and who he is, give SPECIFICS: Don’t just say he’s a good person; discuss the specific things he’s done that make him a good person. Examples or anecdotes which demonstrate who he is are incredibly important to helping develop a better picture of Brandon. You are encouraged to write an honest, straightforward portrait of Brandon. Do not hesitate to write from the heart, and/or emphasize anything you feel is important.

- Explain concrete reasons why Brandon’s sentence should be commuted. Possible things to consider writing about are: Why is his sentence too severe? In what ways has he matured or changed since he was sentenced? What are his plans for his life and helping others after prison? Base the reasons that you explain on your personal knowledge of Brandon and his situation.

The Torture Machine - Connor

Part One: The Torture Machine

I. Insanity

"It's enough just to say what is before our eyes and not shrink from the conclusions."
 -- The Invisible Committee

  He walks around the dirt track that encircles the prison yard. The sun is low in the west, giving a soft, warm glow to the forests and faces on either side of the fence. Birds are offering a lovely melody off in the east. The air is fresh, comforting.
  He is not aware of any of this. In his mind, there is only a cacophony of commodities vying for his attention, and some delusional sense of self he feels compelled to assert. He speaks at length in a loud voice to his companions, about nothing in particular.
  A large, brilliant white butterfly sets down gently on the dirt path, raising and lowering its wings.
  He raises his boot and crushes the butterfly.

. . . .

  I open my hand, full of food, to my companion.
"Would you like to try some?"
"Hell no, what are you, crazy? Not out of your hand."

. . . .

  She hears the screams of her mother every night as she lies awake in her bed, pretending she's crazy.

. . . .

  He scans the magazines and newspapers for the answers. How many times a day should he brush his teeth? What's the best city to live in? How many close friends should he have? What's the best kind of soap to use?
  The answers change from week to week.
  He finds one he likes: a magazine tells him he should walk 10,000 steps a day.
  The hardest struggle is always the one of self.

. . . .

  I was watching the news on the cell block.
  Everyone knows, like the federal government, that Wolf Blitzer tells no lies.
  They cheer on the slaugher of innocents in Orlando. They watch the slaughter in Dallas in silence.

. . . .

  "When I was younger, I wanted to join the military."
  "Why is that," I ask.
  "So that I could kill people and get away with it."

. . . .

  The little girl cannot make sense of it, no matter how hard she tries or how much she cries.
  "But why would they put daddy in a cage? Don't they know he loves me!"
  She chokes from her own sobbing, the only thing she understands.

II. Absence

  I sit on a hill beside an electric fence topped with razorwire. The sun, kissing my face, brings a gentle smile to my lips. A subtle sense of comfort washes over me. I feel your voice rise up in my chest, acknowledging your absence.
  My face becomes drawn and weary as swift as a cloud drifting beneath the sun. I am encircled by the ghosts of those I'll never meet, and those I'll never see again.

How can lips possess so much? - Connor

"How can lips possess so much?"

Twenty-four years
  of lonely nights
Ten thousand
  gallons of alcohol
Countless moments
  of inexpressible joy
A hundred
  suicidal thoughts
A dozen
  street clashes
  and unrequited loves
Twenty-four years
  of waking to the unknown
  and drifting through
  the endless mysteries
To be bound and gagged,
  dragged in chains
  across the final empire,
  buried beneath sun and steel
Wandering across a desolate
  terrain
  of shattered minds
Lost
  in so many brown eyes
And caresses
  drifting across the faces
  of a dozen strangers

And all of this
  so that I may arrive
  to recieve the light
  glistening from your lips.

a poem for the oppressed

"Despicable, calculated, vicious"

Yesterday
  they stood grinning
  over the corpses of black men
  with illusions of immunity
Speaking of patience, healing

Today
  with voices subdued
  they stumble as though half asleep
  with illusions of unity
Speaking of patience, healing

They say how tragic it is
  that some police were killed
  in the line of duty
And mumble about patriotism
But this does nothing
  but amuse us,
  the oppressed,
  for we know
They are the killers
  enforcers of white supremacy
  enforcers of poverty
  enforcers of misery

They speak of a race war
  when white supremacy comes under fire
And speak of progress
  when black men are gunned down on camera

But we know
  All the SWAT teams and propaganda
  in the whole world
  cannot stop the onsetting storm.

We will grind this empire into dust
  with the names of the slain still on our tongues.

-Connor Stevens

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