Rocko is an abolitionist organizer incarcerated in southern Illinois. He is a survivor of the foster care and prison systems and is currently engaged in the struggle for his freedom. Rocko is an incredible writer, thinker, and artist, and inspires creativity in his comrades inside and outside of prison. Through art, writing, and conversation, he’s always finding ways to connect with and challenge others creatively and politically.
Like so many people who are criminalized by the state at a young age, Rocko has spent a large part of his life either behind bars or targeted by police. When he was released from prison in 2016, Rocko was being actively surveilled by detectives within mere months, despite his full compliance with parole. He was eventually arrested for a crime he did not commit, subjected to a lengthy pre-trial detention, and tried in a court where prosecutorial misconduct and false police and witness testimony went unchecked. Ultimately, Rocko was found guilty and sentenced to a massive 30 years in prison for a non-violent drug charge.
As abolitionists we know there is no correlation between crime and punishment in this country, and that innocence is a category reserved for the white and the wealthy. Rocko’s case is a painful testament to this fact, and a bitter reminder that in the eyes of the state, the status of “criminal” is forever. No appeal to the law will change this, and we cannot take back the years the state has stolen from Rocko, but together we can recapture his future.
Rocko is in the process of securing legal representation for his post-conviction petition for a new trial, and is raising funds to cover his legal fees. Rocko’s loved ones are raising $30,000 to pay legal costs and fight for his freedom.
Carceral institutions only exist to perpetuate harm against those not deemed worthy of societal protection. No one should have to spend any portion of their life engaged in constant struggle against these death-making systems. Rocko deserves, just like anyone else, a chance to be free and safe.
Follow his freedom campaign on Instagram for updates [@free.rocko].