Former eco-political prisoner Eric McDavid is near the end of a speaking tour where he goes into detail about life behind bars and how he managed to make it through nine years including significant periods in solitary confinement. If Eric does another tour and comes to your neck of the woods, definitely try to make it out to see him speak, it’s worth it.
Because of security culture, I did not record the Q&A portion of the talk where he goes into detail about the disgusting piece of shit informant who entrapped him. There has been much written on that subject if you want to learn more. What you will hear from him in this podcast is how he managed day by day life behind bars, details of the case against him, and his general thoughts and feelings on what it’s like now to be free.
Watching him speak was like being in the presence of a warrior who has returned from battle. He projects strength and self control, and it’s obvious that these aspects are what helped him survive for nine years behind bars; but there’s hardly a trace of the coldness or hardness one might expect. Prison did not break him or turn him into someone else. Part of the reason for this is the support he received while he was locked down; the letters, books, well wishes and visits obviously sustained him, and we must make sure we’re providing this support to all political prisoners.
If we’re engaged in activism, eco-defense, solidarity work, or anything that challenges the power of the government and corporate interests, we must be aware that Eric’s story could easily be our own under the “right” circumstances. For me personally, this has led to a certain paralysis. When I asked him how to combat paranoia and the paralysis it fosters, his very wise answer included a suggestion that we make sure we’re having one on one conversations instead of jumping to conclusions. If there’s a problem, a disagreement, or a misunderstanding, don’t let it fester to the point where suspicions begin to thrive. Problematic people and fucked up behaviors will always be a part of any community, and of course the feds have figured out how to exploit this quite well. The way we respond to the inevitable provocations and infiltrations determines the strength of our communities and our long term effectiveness in the struggle.