Tag Archives: attica

Call for Renewed Actions in Solidarity With the Prison Strike, October 15-22

From It’s Going Down

It hardly seems necessary to summarize what has gone down inside U.S. prisons since September 9th. Hunger strikes, work stoppages, and riots have spread throughout the country on a scale that we likely aren’t even fully aware of yet. Some uprisings appeared took us by surprise, such as in several Florida prisons, while others presumably grew from recent organizing endeavors on the inside, such as at Kinross in Michigan or Holman in Alabama. By rough estimates, over 20,000 prisoners were involved in some way. That’s huge.

On the outside, solidarity burned so brightly all over the world. Banner drops, graffiti slogans, noise demonstrations and more showed that we had the backs of all who would partake in the strike. It is worth noting however that the vast majority of this took place the first weekend of the strike. But this prison strike—and the struggle against prisons more broadly—is about more than a day or a week. It didn’t start on September 9th and it isn’t ending any time soon. Some prisoners may return to work while others decide to stop working for the first time. It’s easier when there is a definitive date to take action on, to build momentum towards, but that’s not going to be enough.

Therefore, we would like to offer a call for renewed actions in solidarity with the prison strike and the struggle against prison society. Right now many are organizing anti-repression campaigns for striking prisoners and that is of course very necessary and not nearly as exciting work. But it would be a mistake to conceive of this struggle in a linear fashion—that is to say, a single wave where we demonstrate as it crests and write letters as it crashes. How many prisoners hadn’t heard about the strike until after it had started? How many knew but didn’t think people would actually be there to support them? Three weeks after the start of the strike, inmates in Turbeville, South Carolina rebelled against a guard and took over their dorm. How can we stop while inmates are still risking their lives for freedom? Continue reading

Sept. 9 Inmate Protesters “in this struggle for the long haul”

From Cowboys on the Commons

An update, and interviews with some inmates, on tomorrow’s prison protest events. 

Tomorrow, September 9, inmates in prisons from California to Alabama will rise in protest and civil disobedience against the inhumane conditions, underpaid labor, and socioeconomic oppression of the American prison system. Activists in states from Washington to New York, Michigan to Texas, will gather in solidarity with those prisoners. As I wrote in an article published yesterday at Occupy.com, this is a strike against American corporate capitalism itself, because the prison is the “ideological muscularity” of economic injustice. Punitive incarceration (as opposed to the detention of unstable and dangerous individuals) is a policy farce, which even intelligent conservative legal theorists are hesitant to defend. But what happens in American prisons is even worse–American policymakers have accepted the inevitability of micro-violence, an entire paradigm of inmates’ loss of agency over their bodies, behind prison walls. Even most of the international human rights community reluctantly accepts the inevitability of compulsory labor as part of imprisonment. But radical egalitarian thinking does not, and the politics of 2015-2016 have brought egalitarianism onto a bigger stage.

The events have been in planning and promotion stages for several weeks now, but apart from a fine article in The Nation that also ran yesterday, national media coverage has been lacking. The protest at Standing Rock — a stand by Native Americans and allies against the economic interests that run over indigenous land — have also overshadowed other activist news, and it’s worth noting that the protests there are connected with prison resistance at the deepest levels. The extraction-exploitation economy uses the cheapest human labor it can find, and fights to dig energy out from all land, no matter how sacred to those connected to that land. Dig stuff up, throw people in prison, keep planet and people in a state of dependence and desperation. Continue reading

Prison Labor Revolts Shake the Foundation of the Corporate State, Part II

From Occupy.com

his is the second installment of a two-part series about the upcoming September 9 prison labor strike. Read the first part here.

“Maximum utilization of the U.S. prison system as a weapon of class warfare was part of the neoconservative agenda initiated during the Reagan administration. As the keynote speaker to the 1981 convention of the American Correctional Association … Associate Attorney General Rudolph Giuliani articulated the new policy in classical conservative terms. ‘In the beginning,’ he said, ‘man formed government to protect against the danger of invaders from without as well as predators from within. National defense and domestic defense are, therefore, the two primal functions of any government. Our criminal justice system is charged with one of these two primal tasks.’ No subsequent administration, including that of Democratic President Bill Clinton, has deviated from the prison policies established during the early 1980s.” – [Richard D. Vogel](http://monthlyreview.org/2003/09/01/capitalism-and-incarceration-revisited/)

In the video, recorded and distributed via an unauthorized cell phone, a man speaks from a corner of cinderblock walls, pointing to a pile of hideous-looking meat patties. He’s hard to hear because of the noise of people and the recording quality.

“We don’t know what it is,” he says calmly. “We don’t eat it. We can’t eat it. It’s raw.”

He uses a piece of metal to pick the meat apart, displaying pink and gray uncooked substances. There are obviously huge chunks of raw and dirty meat in the patties, which are burnt on one side, undercooked on the other, and a nauseating color in the middle. Finally, the prisoner faces the camera phone and explains that prisons save money by feeding spoiled food to inmates, that this is part of the cost-benefit calculus of the prison system.
Continue reading

The History and Future of Prison Strikes and Solidarity

From Crimethinc

Listen here.

As we build momentum towards the September 9th national prison strike, we want to reflect on lessons learned from past generations of prison rebels, as well as how we can maintain energy on September 10th and beyond. In Episode 50 of the Ex-Worker, solidarity organizer Ben Turk fills us in on some history of prisoner organizing in recent decades, recaps some of the solidarity actions that have taken place leading up to this year’s historic strike, and offers perspective on continuing and deepening our resistance to prison society. We commemorate the death of Jordan MacTaggart, an American anarchist killed on the front lines in battle with the YPG against the Islamic State, and discuss international solidarity and the politics of martyrdom with Rojava Solidarity NYC. The death of John Timoney, former police chief and notorious foe of anarchists, prompts both glee and a somber reflection on the misery he inflicted on us. A member of Revolutionary Anarchist Action (DAF) in Istanbul discusses the background to the recent failed military coup as well as recent waves of anti-anarchist repression. A call for solidarity from la ZAD, news, events, and prisoner birthdays round out this packed episode.

Inmates strike in prisons nationwide over ‘slave labor’ working conditions

From The Guardian

Organizing groups say coordinated strikes are under way in at least four states in stance against poor sanitary conditions and jobs that amount to forced labor.

A nationwide prison strike over conditions and wages behind bars, which organizers tipped to be the biggest of its kind in US history, was under way in at least several correctional facilities across the country on Friday, according to prison rights advocates.

Inmates from several states, who had bound together with the help of activists and organizing groups, aimed the national strikes – which had been in the making for several months – against what they said amounted to slave labor conditions amid mass incarceration in the country.

The coordinated events, which organizers targeted in as many as 24 states, occurred on the 45th anniversary of the riots at Attica prison in New York – the largest prison uprising in American history – over grievances today’s protesters say are similar, including poor sanitary conditions and prison jobs that amount to forced labor.

In April, one of the main national groups organizing the campaign, the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee (IWOC), under the banner of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) union, announced its call to action. Continue reading

Why prisoners nationwide are striking

From CBS News

Prisons can’t run without inmates, in more ways than one. Prisoners wash floors, work in the laundries and kitchens, and provide a large amount of the labor that keeps their facilities running. In return, they earn pennies per hour or even no pay at all.

That’s sparking what may be the largest prison strike yet as inmates across the country plan to stop working on Friday. The strikers are calling for an end to forced labor and what they call “prison slavery.”

It’s no coincidence that they picked Sept. 9 as the strike date: It’s the 45th anniversary of the Attica riot, when prisoners at the Attica Correctional Facility in New York rioted for better conditions.

The strike comes amid increased interest from lawmakers and the public in prison reform, as well as several nonviolent prison protests designed to draw attention to labor conditions, such as a 2014 work stoppage in Alabama prisons. The organizers frame the issue as slave labor because the 13th Amendment, which outlawed slavery in 1865, includes one exception: for people who are “duly convicted” of a crime.

“That’s why none of these protections, such as worker protections, apply to prisoners,” said Alex Friedmann, the managing editor of Prison Legal News and the associate director of the Human Rights Defense Center. “So under the 13th Amendment, they’re basically worked as slaves, and if they don’t work, they’re punished.” Continue reading

Letter of support from Quebec prisoners on strike, September 9

From Prison Radio Show

The letter reads:

A Letter in Support of Prisoners in the US who are striking against prison slavery

First, we want to tell you that you are not alone! We are keeping our eyes on your struggles. We support you!

In your call for a strike on September 9th you evoke the uprising in Attica that began on September 9, 1971. You write about ending prison slavery by ceasing to be slaves yourselves. We see you. We hear you. We support you.

We are a group of people, some in prison, some not in prison, and some who are in between. We are critical of the prison system and all its trappings. We would like to share with you some stories of our struggles. Continue reading

Situation critical: Prison riot highlights CO concerns

From Chipley Paper

Law enforcement advocates are pointing to Wednesday’s prison uprising involving 400 inmates at Holmes Correctional Institute as an illustration of a larger problem some say has been largely ignored by the state.

Florida Department of Corrections Director of Communications Michelle Glady confirmed 400 inmates housed in multiple units were involved – but stopped short of calling the incident a riot, instead referring to the uprising as a “major disturbance.”

“At this time, the situation has been resolved and the facility remains on a Level 3 lockdown,” said Glady on Thursday. “There was one inmate on inmate injury that occurred during the disturbance. No staff were injured. The Department is currently accessing the facility for any damages that have resulted and have transported all the involved inmates to other locations. Additional information will be made available following a comprehensive after action review and investigation.”

Inmate unrest

DOC officials have not confirmed if the unrest was part of the nationwide prisoner strike planned for September 9 in observance of the anniversary of the Attica Prison riot that occurred at Attica Correctional Facility in Attica, New York in 1971, but officials have acknowledged the possible connection. Continue reading

South Carolina Prisoners’ Demands, September 9

In representation of those in South Carolina not working or refusing to work on Sept 9, 2016—


1. We want free labor to be ended in South Carolina. We want to be fairly compensated for our labor. This can be done by re-instituting state pay for general labor, and labor wages for private industry jobs

2. SCDC stop removing mental health patients from treatment programs back to general population units   for disciplinary infractions

3. SCDC allow lifers to advance through the classification system to lower custody prisons like all others. Particularly to minimum security prisons. We also demand they not be removed for one minor disciplinary infraction

4. The SC parole board decisions be more grounded in scientific analysis. Rather then emotions.

5. SCDC re-institute GED educational classes for all that want to obtain a GED. This includes hiring GED instructors. We also demand meaningful re/habilitation programs be instituted for all that desire to help. This include more meaningful treatment and re entry programs that will accommodate the number of prisoners that are requesting such

6. SCDC end excessive canteen and visitation vendor machine prices

7. SCDC end the practice of in camera video doctor visits for medical and mental health concerns.

8. The State of SC end the truth in sentencing warehousing law and the habitual sentencing of life sentences

Published by SJ, Founder of Jailhouse Lawyers Speak