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 , 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
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.
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.
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
From Waging Nonviolence
Along with Support Prisoner Resistance and the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee, or IWOC, of the IWW labor union, FAM issued a call to action earlier this summer, with an estimated 40 prisons in 24 states expected to participate. Much like the inmates who took over New York’s infamous correctional facility in 1971, today’s prisoners are fighting against the conditions of their imprisonment, especially the conditions under which they are forced to work, which many describe as slavery.
Although some states allow prisoners to get paid for their labor, the pay is often less than a dollar per hour, and sometimes absolutely nothing. Half of those wages, in federal institutions at least, are withheld for room and board, victim’s programs and family support. Whatever remains goes toward buying the necessary commissary items for making life in prison tolerable. Essentials like toilet paper, deodorant, menstrual products and laundry detergent can each cost multiple days’ wages.
Watch this video from Freedom Archives here.
September 9-13 mark the 45th anniversary of the Attica Rebellion. This massive prison takeover by hundreds of inmates and the callous repression and murders by the state of New York are part of a unique moment in US history. The legacy of Attica and the fight for human rights is carried on in the prisons of Georgia, Ohio, California and wherever people are caged for years on end.
Across 24 states, inmates are sick of poisoned water, solitary confinement, and forced labor.
his September 9, we may witness the largest prison strike in US history. Potentially thousands of inmates across both state and federal prisons in as many as 24 states plan to engage in a T coordinated strike and protest in an attempt to bring attention to the daily injustice of their lives. The strikers are calling for an end to “slave-like” working conditions, illegal reprisals, and inhumane living conditions.
Planned for the 45th anniversary of the Attica Prison uprising, the actions of September 9 will shed light on the often decrepit conditions suffered by the 2.4 million people in what is the largest carceral system in the world. They will also mark a new point in the fight against mass incarceration, and likely stand as a harbinger for further actions and strikes to come. Malik Washington, an inmate in the H. H. Coffield Unit in Texas and the chief spokesperson for the End Prison Slavery in Texas movement, wrote to me in a letter: “Prisoners in Amerikan prisons are sick and tired of being degraded, dehumanized, and exploited.”
Building a Movement Behind Bars
The September action didn’t come out of nowhere. Siddique Abdullah Hasan, an inmate in Ohio State Penitentiary and a member of the Free Ohio Movement, describes it as just the latest part of “an ongoing resistance movement” that has seen increasing numbers of work strikes, hunger strikes, and protests hitting prisons across the country in the past decade. Back in 2010, inmates in at least six different state prisons in Georgia staged a labor strike, protesting prison conditions and lack of remuneration for their forced labor. Continue reading
Find the facebook event here.
2PM: Teach-in at Chapman Square
3PM: March to Prison Profiteers
6PM: Reconvene at Champman for a Noise Demo @ the Justice Center (across the street from Chapman Square)
On Friday, September 9th, people across Portland and Northwest will converge in Downtown Portland in solidarity with the US wide prison work strike against prison slavery and white supremacy. Our goal is a mass showing of support with the growing prison rebellion in the US and to also march on the corporations in the Downtown area that make massive profits off of prisoner enslavement.
Slavery is legal in America. Written into the 13th Amendment, it is legal to work someone that is incarcerated for free or almost free. Since the civil war, tens of millions of people most arrested for non-violent offenses, have been used as slaves for the sake of generating massive profits for multi-national corporations and the US government. Today, prison labor is a multi-billion dollar industry which helps generate enormous wealth for key industries such as fossil fuels, fast food, telecommunications, technology, the US military, and everyday house hold products.
The strike, which starts officially on September 9th, the 45th anniversary of the Attica Uprising, is historic. The strike is being led by groups such as the Free Alabama Movement, Free Texas Movement, Free Ohio Movement, Free Virginia Movement, Free Mississippi Movement, and many more. Prisoners have asked that supporters hold noise demonstrations outside jails and prisons, protest, disrupt, and demonstrate outside of corporations that profit from prison labor, and also support the strike that is happening across the US. Continue reading
Peace and Blessings to all – my name is:
Keith ‘Malik’ Washington. I am one of the key spokespersyns for the End
Prison Slavery in Texas Movement. I am from Houston, Texas, specifically
the 3rd Ward. There are many Prison Authorities and Law Enforcement
Officials who will attempt to characterize our movement as violent.
I have never endorsed or promoted violence in this Movement simply because
it plays right into the hands of the individuals and Agencies who oppress
The Texas Department of Criminal Justice, F.B.I., D.H.S., and numerous
Federal and State Law Enforcement and Intelligence Agencies are fully
equipped to deal with violence.
However as prisoners finally become visible in the media we must use this
opportunity to convey our thoughts and demands in an intelligent,
pragmatic, and respectful manner.
What scares T.D.C.J. about this movement is not the violence – it is the
prospect of two things:
1.) The threat of losing money from having to stop or slow operations of
the numerous Texas Correctional Industry Factories which generate millions
2.) Being exposed in the main-stream media as an Agency which exploits,
oppresses, and abuses human beings in their care.
On top of being a spokespersyn for our movement I am also a proud member of
the Industrial Workers of the World and the Incarcerated Workers Organizing
Committee. Before I leave you I want to briefly state our Demands:
1.) On a National Level we want Presidential Candidates Hillary Clinton or
Jill Stein to craft Legislation that will Abolish Prison Slavery by
Amending the 13th Amendment.
2.) In Texas we want the Following:
A.) Good Time & Work Time credits which actually reduce our prison terms –
All of us, not some!
B.) An Oversight Committee for T.D.C.J.
C.) Right to an Attorney on Habeas Filings
D.) Abolish the $100 Medical Co-pay System
E.) Humane Living Conditions & Treatment
There are no Racial issues we have – it is well understood that there are
Black, White, Latino – Asian and Arab human beings who SUFFER inside Texas
We are pleading with the World to hear our cries for Freedom and Humane
Conditions. I leave you all as I came in Peace.
In Solidarity – Malik