February 2007

A new 12-week series of SOMA is starting in April


SOMA – an experiment in anarchism

Monday nights from April


7 – 10 pm

(£7 full /£5 concession)

The Boxing Club
Limehouse Town Hall
646 Commercial Road LONDON E14 7HA

Info: 07758224334 (Goia) – 07947596589 (Arthur)

By Tube

Limehouse DLR from Bank or Tower Gateway, then a 5 minute walk (see below).

By Bus

15 From Trafalgar Sq.
115 From Aldgate
D6 From Hackney
D3 From Bethnal Green


Get onto Commercial Road and travel East from Aldgate or Whitechapel. Keep going until you pass Limehouse DLR on your right (under the DLR train bridge) and you’ll see a modern red brick church also on the right, lots of sickening property developments, then an ex-library with a statue of Clement Atlee in front of it, then you’ll see the Town Hall with St Anne’s (Hawksmoor) church behind it. If you need to park, there is a pay and display area behind the town hall (go right onto Three Colt Street after the church, and weave your way to the back of the hall), but there are no parking wardens on weekends.

map:  http://www.streetmap.co.uk/newmap.srf?x=536720&y=181065&z=1&sv=536750,181250&st=4&ar=Y&mapp=newmap.srf&searchp=newsearch.srf

This is an introductory workshop for SOMA – an experiment in anarchism. SOMA is a series of 12 sessions/experiences using body games to create a group dynamic, inspired by principles of self-organisation and solidarity. Working in groups is one of the biggest challenges in our competitive and individualistic society, even among activists fighting against it. How could we live in a more collaborative way? This course aims to use the SOMA process to create a group dynamic which will lead to organising and producing art and activism.

When Roberto Freire created SOMA – an anarchist therapy in Brazil, more than thirty years ago, he was looking for therapeutic methodologies that could help people emotionally who were fighting against the military dictatorship. Changing therapy into experiment, we have turned the SOMA (which means ‘totality of being’ in Greek) approach away from an emphasis on neurosis (we have something wrong) towards the gaining of skills (we can learn something new). In this sense, SOMA seeks to inspire skills to build horizontal relationships, skills that can transform the way we perceive the world, re-building the body, its dwelling and livelihood.

SOMA process creates an environment in which the consensus decision making process starts in each participant’s body, mind, emotions and feelings. This approach breaks the traditional rational way to develop skills, where the mind is split from the body, the individual removed from its surroundings. SOMA games are proposals to play in a group – sharing experiences of collaboration, trust and responsibility. It’s this group dynamic created by SOMA games that stimulate the whole being to engage with the world. After the games, the participants will feedback, talking about their perceptions and behaviour playing together. The games and talks will be the material to work with later, triggering the creative process for the final part of the course.

The body is the material to work with: movement, perception and contact with each other to dare to be creative in everyday life. Play is a way to rediscover the body, just as collaboration helps to rediscover relationships.

thought_crime_saloon21.jpgthe South London Activist Choir (aka the Slackers) is singing in and around London NOW!We were at the anti-nuclear, anti-war march on February 24th delving into the rich archive of long-lost, totally-current, totally-needed anti-nuclear songs of the 80s and before (like, “We can’t live in a Trident submarine” etc)

We are singing at the Moksha cabaret on Saturday 3rd March at the Ivy House, Peckham.

We all love singing and we hate marching from A to B without some kind of creative expression. If you fancy singing with us, please contact unmotivated@riseup.net for more info. We generally meet about once a fortnight in South London but north londoners welcome of course.

An A – Z of Mumia Abu Jamal, writer and journalist, who was convicted in 1982 of killing Police Officer Faulkner in 1981 and has been on death row ever since. This writing is in the name of no one but myself, a white british woman currently living in
London, England, and is a result of my readings and research in preparation for this awareness-raising event in Stockwell, (Ceri Buck, 2006, Brixton)


A is for Arnold Beverly

whose confession to the murder of police officer faulkner

still hasn’t been accepted by the courts.


B is for Black Panther,

a group Mumia learnt from and worked with in the 70s

considered the ‘terrorists’ of the time by the FBI

who killed 38 panthers nationwide for their political beliefs


C is for Corrections,

euphemism for the
US penal system

in essence a green light for violence of prison staff against prisoners,

none of whom are “corrected”,

none of whom emerge from prison better than when they went in

thanks to the outlawing of education for death row prisoners,

a hellish diet of junk food, and barbiturates

Prisoners need Connection, to themselves and others,

through support and education,

not the corrosive lie of correction

through emotion wrecking chemicals


D is for Death Row population

40% of whom are black

when the total
US black population is only 11%.


E is for evidence

or lack of it.

The prosecution scenario of the shooting

is physically impossible

and not even supported by the prosecution’s own evidence.

Moreover, the scene of the crime

was not sectioned off by police

to secure the integrity of the location,

which was highly unusual

given this incident involved the killing of a police officer.


F is for follow-through from the 60s,

or lack of it,

that beautiful discourse of freedom and civil rights.

We need social change as much now as we ever did.

We need again that mighty impulse for change,

feeding into and from the networks of the digital age we are now living in.


G is for Alfonzo Giordano.

Police officer

on the scene of the shooting

December 1981

under investigation for corruption by the FBI at the time. 

Giordano first claimed that

‘Mumia confessed in the police van’

after being shot, beaten and arrested

(although the other officer in the van did not report any confession).

Then Giordano claimed that Mumia confessed on the hospital floor,

while he was almost bleeding to death.

The doctor at the hospital said that

Mumia could not possibly have said anything.

In 1986, Giordano was accused of receiving thousands of dollars

in illegal payoffs.

So G is for Giordano

and by association for police corruption and mob connection,

an investigation of which

is urgent for Mumia’s freedom.


H is for History

accepting the challenges that the horrors

of the History of the black diaspora

places on us.

Accepting and acting on this obligation

so that our lives are concerned with confronting injustice,

and defending freedom

is a constant, life-shaping task.

We face a brick wall of

an economic system that makes money for the few

rather than exploring how humans can explore and deliver their potential.

H is for History and utilising

the tools

at our disposal.


I is for the stories of the individual

who’ve escaped poverty and made a decent life,

who’ve travelled from the ghetto to the middle class,

from ignorance to education,

from gangster to the redeemed. 

This is a formula that sells

because it accepts and maintains the fact that

there are rich and there are poor.

It is about individuals,

not groups,

crossing boundaries.

It comforts the rich

and the powerless alike

because if some can be seen to escape,

the system is not totally evil,

nor are the powerless totally guiltless

… if some haven’t escaped, then why haven’t I?


J is for judge and jury,

both of which were handpicked

to ensure that Mumia was convicted

and sentenced to death.

At the time of the trial,

no one believed that Mumia

could be convicted

the charge was so out of character

but Judge Sabo was overheard by official court stenographer

as saying that he would help fry Mumia,

The racist jury selection meant black people were kicked off the jury

so he faced a non-representative proportion of the population.

And these are two of the issues up for consideration

before the 3rd circuit court of appeals

at the present moment.


K is for Rodney King, violently beaten by 4 LAPD cops in the early 90s,

causing distress and anger in LA and around the world

No friend of the cops,  

Mumia, from Death Row, criticises

the retrial of the LAPD cops

as a violation of the 5th amendment

which states that no one can be tried twice for the same crime.

Double jeopardy

Mumia argues that this is how the state

will sacrifice even its own agents

when it is propitious to do so,

in our age of false gestures and public relations. 


L is for the Line-up

that Mumia demanded after his arrest.

There is no stronger evidence in court

than being picked out of a lineup by an eyewitness. 

Another indicator of Mumia’s innocence

– he trusted that he would not be picked.

The prosecution blocked it

saying they didn’t have witnesses

and then proceeded to somehow find them

to testify against Mumia in court


M is for MOVE

A spiritual, interracial, communal organisation,

whose empowered way of organising themselves

was especially threatening to the system.

In 1978 a year long police siege,

ended with 600 cops shooting up the MOVE house

killing one of their own in the crossfire,

and for which 9 MOVE members were convicted.

Mumia reported this trial

exposing their August 1981 convictions as a frame up. 

During this time,

he became a MOVE supporter

started to wear dreadlocks

lost his steady radio journalism jobs

for his uncompromising stance

took up cab driving part time

which was what he was doing on the night in December 1981

well known to the police

for his critique of them.

In 1985,

the authorities firebombed the MOVE community,

killing 11 men, women and children.


M is also for Media.

Don’t expect the corporate media networks to serve any progressive movement.

If we resist, we will be portrayed as insane, so that the authorities can attack us

without fear of reprisal, as in the MOVE story,

as in the
Waco attack

that the authorities said was ‘suicide’.

And even in our quiet determination to live our own lives,

the media will fan flames of sensationalism over our dead bodies

to cover up police brutality

by saying that we jump tube barriers,

refuse to obey police instructions

and look suspiciously like suicide bombers.

We will not forget Jean Charles de Menezes.


N is for New Trial. 

“Our job is to throw out the conviction,

not demand a new trial.

It’s the job of the DA

to decide if they want a new trial

with all their phony evidence

and all their perjury and lying witnesses

or if they want to do the right thing

and free Mumia.

If you think about it,

if Mumia’s innocent

and if there is no real evidence against him,

why do we want a new trial

based on perjured evidence.

Our position is he’s innocent,

the conviction is no good,

he didn’t get a fair trial,

throw it out,

let him go,

let’s all move forward in history.”


P is for political persecution.

Mumia’s case

is intended to be a lesson

to all who dare to speak up

against injustice and inequality.


R is for Rights 

In Mumia’s case

the right to a fair and impartial jury

was violated.

The right to represent himself

was violated.

The right to a fair trial

was violated.

Human rights don’t exist,

they’re privileges of the rich and powerful.

For the powerless and displaced,

Human rights slip out of hands like soap.

When I have been stripped of my socio-political identity through war, displacement,  & economics,all i am is human and then i am denied human rights and taken to a detention centre outside the London and Paris airports. 

S is for self-determination and self-defense, both practices that Malcolm X argued for, inspiring the panthers and Mumia and making perfect sense to me. Malcolm X saw through the paternalism of civil rights, important as many moments of its history are, because you won’t get protection from the same authorities who, without fundamental change in their make-up and outlook, will agree one minute, then violate an agreement the next. Freedom is not given by any authority but constructed every moment of every day in every interaction our bodies participate in. 

T is for the tightrope we walk,separating us, if indeed it does, from unforgiving entrapment and poverty and lifeless chancelessness,media mesmerizing us with mirages of boundless wealth. It’s hard to walk safe and free in our lives not be bound by the limitations of a system that represses and divides us from our creativity, from our potential as human beings. 

U is for us (lower case), the power of us, when we manage to work togetherand not forget those who are disappearedthrough imprisonment 

V is for ‘Voice of the Voiceless’ as Mumia is often known. While he’s been on death row, some groups and individuals worked hard to make Mumia known as a working journalist, so that he wasn’t nameless and faceless, making it harder to execute him. In 1994, his writings featured on National Public Radio who then received threats for funding cuts from Republican leaders. 

W is for Weinglass and Williams, the defence attorneys on Mumia’s case for a decade until Mumia fired them in 2001. These two lawyers highlight the dangers of a liberal approach to a highly political case. Unable to believe in emerging evidence of police and mob connections that point to a police frame up of Mumia, they obstructed the key testimonies of Arnold Beverly, William Singletary and Billy Cook – all of whom state that Mumia did not kill police officer Faulkner.  

Y is for Why can’t I hug him? Why can’t we kiss? Why can’t I sit in his lap? Why can’t we touch? Why not? Break it! Break it! – the words of Mumia’s daughter on her first visit to her father. Tiny fists on plexiglas. 

Z is for zoomMoving intravelling quicklyrising sharply in numberchanging smoothly from a long shot to a close upon Mumia’s case and othersto change to cause changeto be the change. 

Source texts:Live from Death Row – Mumia Abu JamalVarious writings and speeches by Rachel Wolkenstein, Partisan Defence Committee, Eliot Grossman