Today, Eric King was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison in the federal district court in Kansas City, Missouri, USA. Eric accepted a non-cooperating plea to one count of “use of explosive materials to commit arson of property used in or affecting interstate commerce” (18 U.S.C. § 844[h]). The action he admitted taking was throwing a hammer and two Molotov cocktails through the window of the empty office of a US congressperson from Missouri late at night on September 11th, 2014.
The statutory minimum and maximum sentences for that charge are both 10 years, meaning that the set penalty is 10 years. Eric will receive credit for time served for almost two years of pre-trial incarceration, leaving him a little more than eight years to serve.
We do not know where he will be spending those years, though we commit to keeping you all up-to-date on his placement and well-being until he is free once more. The most recent updates will always be at http://www.supportericking.org.
A number of people gathered together today and made it through the court’s security check to fill the rows with love and solidarity. Thank you to everyone who came out! Eric was in the best spirits one could anticipate considering the grim circumstances at hand. As always, he demonstrated the incredible balance of light-heartedness and serious commitment to his values that we have come to appreciate in him so much. He entered the courtroom smiling at supporters and signed “I love you,” to his partner, a gesture of affection that was quickly squashed by a US Marshall. Despite the shackles on his ankles and wrists, he was warmly animated throughout the proceeding, smiling and rolling his eyes at the more laughable court proceedings, and even flipping off the prosecutor. He also delivered a powerful sentencing statement to the court, refusing to back down. Not even the gravity of the moment could keep his spirit down or his words in check.
Putting into words the emotions we’re all feeling right now is difficult. There is a certain sense of relief in knowing that he will soon be transferred out of Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) Leavenworth. CCA is notorious for abhorrent prison conditions, and Eric’s time there has consistently shown that infamous reputation to be well deserved. We do not expect his time in federal prison to be good, but hope that he will have a better chance of getting his basic needs met in that system than he was able to find in the for-profit, slave-holding facility in Leavenworth. While there is a feeling of closure in this chapter of Eric’s story, there is also a palpable rage as Eric has been stolen from us and will remain locked away for the next eight years.
Prior to imposing the sentence and conditions of release, Judge Fenner felt it necessary to announce to Eric and enter into the court record that Eric is “obviously a sick, deranged and dangerous person” with a “history of mental illness.” While there is always room for learning and growth every time a comrade is imprisoned, we refuse this narrative that Eric’s actions can be summed up as those of a deranged individual. We want to strongly counter this assertion of the state and remind those who hold power that resistance to and direct attacks against systems and structures of oppression is not a sign of mental illness nor delusion. In fact, in many cases these acts of resistance, large or small, are the most sound reaction one could take when faced with the daily horrors and brokenness that are imposed on us all. Eric expressed no regrets today in court and we continue to stand in solidarity with him.
We’ll be sharing the transcript from the hearing as soon as we have it, including Eric’s sentencing statement (which he improvised in the moment). Overall, he lambasted the classist, racist, and patriarchal government and the way it destroys families and communities for the sake of the rich. He insulted the court, the judge, and the supposed “justice” they claim to represent. He stood proudly behind his act of rebellion, refusing to beg for mercy or to apologize for his actions. “This court is a farce. I stand by what I did. I’m happy I did it. I’m sorry that I got caught.”
We’d like to close with some of Eric’s own words, transcribed from a phone call with Eric last night:
“This has been a really fucking long and hard journey. CCA sucks. It is a horrible, horrible place. They have done everything imaginable just to drain all of the life and soul out of everyone here. I have been incredibly fortunate to have some many people come into my life and take a stand with me so that I didn’t have to face this shit alone. I have seen how difficult prison can be when you don’t have a support team and don’t have folks in your corner. I wouldn’t wish that on anybody but unfortunately it is the reality for most. The system breeds such an environment.“
There have been so many people that interjected themselves in my life with the sole purpose of being there for me and limiting the state’s crushing effect. I don’t know what I would do without those people. From the smallest greeting to the big gestures, everything has meant so much to me. Prison support is a real tangible thing that people can do for each other. We cannot have a functioning radical community without it. So thanks to everyone who reached out to me, if we still talk or not, you have been awesome.
“Now that said, I stand by my actions. After seeing what happened in Ferguson, so close down the road, I was disgusted by the lack of mobilization in my city. Three hours away people were fighting for their lives and we weren’t even taking to the streets. We were doing nothing. My act as a very personal display of my anger and rage toward the state as well as an act of solidarity to everyone in Ferguson. We never know our own strength until we are tested and even with my ridiculous sentence I feel at least proud to have been able to stand strong and refuse to cooperate with the state.
“I am just really happy that I don’t have to take this alone and have so many amazing people standing next to me. Until all are free.
“Thank you for your roles in my life and for your support.”
Keep posted for future updates on Eric. And drop him a line to show him your solidarity:
100 Highway Terrace
Leavenworth, KS 66048
You can also donate to his support fund at http://fnd.us/c/316cDf/sh/a4jVK6. You can get a kick-ass support t-shirt when you donate $20 or more!
Love and rage,
EK Support Crew