STRIKING GEORGIA PRISONERS GAIN NATIONAL SUPPORT

Bryan Pfieffer, Ken Snodgrass, Kwasi Akwamu, Yusef Shakur, Raphael Johnson, unidentified supporter call for justice for GA prisoners outside Detroit’s Mound Rd. prison Dec. 14, 2010 Photo by Diane Bukowski

DETROIT CONTINGENT OF CONCERNED COALITION TO RESPECT PRISONERS’ RIGHTS HOLDS PRESS CONFERENCE OUTSIDE MOUND RD. PRISON DEC. 14

 
 
Videotape By Kenny Snodgrass, Activist, Author of From Victimization To Empowerment
www.trafford.com/07-0913 *
 

DETROITERS SUPPORT STRIKING GEORGIA PRISONERS

Many at press conference also served time

 

By Diane Bukowski

DETROIT – The Detroit contingent of the Concerned Coalition to Respect Prisoners’ Rights, which includes many who spent time in Michigan’s prison system, expressed their solidarity with striking prisoners in Georgia at a press conference Dec. 14.

“We are demanding that the government of the state of Georgia sit down and talk with the leaders of the prisoners,” said Kwasi Akwamu, a member of the Detroit chapter of All of Us or None of Us.

“They must begin a fact-finding mission to investigate the prisoners’ claims of inhuman treatment and violent retaliation. The inmates have not taken over the prisons, or committed any form of violence. Their action is a peaceful protest involving all different ethnicities, people affiliated with gangs, with religious groups, who have come together for a righteous agenda. They will be coming back into society. If they are treated like animals now, and they act like animals when they come back out, then we shouldn’t be surprised nor should we complain.”

Akwamu, Yusef Shakur and others sponsor a Second Chance Support Group for ex-prisoners in Detroit. They also run the Urban Network Bookstore in a poor neighborhood on Grand River west of McGraw in Detroit, selling publications to educate the city’s youth on the causes of their plight and their real enemies.

“There is a prison across the street here and a gravesite on the other side,” Shakur said. “There are more Black men in America in them than in any other country in the world. We represent a whole new social class. Most of us here today have been incarcerated at some time in our lives, and we are supporting our brothers and sisters against the practices that go on in Georgia, including the slave labor that the 13th Amendment still allows in punishment for crime.”

Shakur has published several books, as has Raphael Johnson, an ex-prisoner and former candidate for City Council who placed in the top 18 primary finalists.

Johnson called on rappers who glorify prison life styles and crime to render financial support to the prisoners in Georgia.

“Rappers like Gucci Mane and Young Joc, who glorify the crime scene and the penitentiary and the Department of Corrections in their rap and stage presence—we are calling on them to pool their resources and dollars to help assist these brothers in Georgia,” Johnson said. “Put their money where their mouth is or don’t rap about it—step up or shut up.”

Johnson quoted U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, who ruled that just because individuals are incarcerated does not mean they lose their human rights and the right to decent food, health care, living conditions, and other treatment.

Bryan Pfieffer said he also served time in another state.

“I am here today representing the Michigan Emergency Committee against War and Injustice (MECAWI),” Pfieffer said. “We stand in total solidarity with the brothers in Georgia. We demand jobs so that our brothers and sisters don’t end up in prison. Open up the walls, hands off the prisoners, no attacks on the prisoners’ rights or their persons.”

 

To contact the Detroit contingent of the Concerned Coalition to Respect Prisoners’ Rights, call Kwasi Akwamu at 313-285-8450, or go to the organization’s Facebook page. Continuing coverage is also available at http://voiceofdetroit.net.

 
 

Elaine Brown

Link to radio interview with Elaine Brown by Davey D on KPFA Radio, Oakland CA (excellent, thorough interview is about 10 minutes into the tape)

 
 
 
 
 
 
  
 
 
 

Young prisoner Rodriques Dukes in solitary confinement at Georgia's Hays State Prison Photo National Geographic

GEORGIA PRESS RELEASE:

Concerned Coalition to Respect Prisoners’ Rights

 
Coalition of NAACP, Nation of Islam, Elected Officials, Prisoner Activists

Demand Governor Perdue and DOC Commissioner Brian Owens

Stop Violence Against Striking Prisoners

 PRESS CONFERENCE December 13, 2010, 3:30 p.m.

State Capitol 100 Washington Street Atlanta, Georgia

Georgia uses a paramilitary system that demands a rigid structure and full accountability of both inmates and COs (Corrections Officers). A CO monitors a cell-house to instill authority over the inmates. (Photo Credit Gregory Henry)

NAACP State Chairman Edward Dubose joined by representatives from the Nation of Islam, elected officials and others, who have formed the Concerned Coalition to Respect Prisoners’ Rights, will hold a press conference at 3:30 p.m. today at the Capitol to urge Governor Perdue and Department of Corrections Commissioner Owens to halt the violent tactics being employed by guards against thousands of striking prisoners.  They have reached out to Perdue and Owens for meetings earlier in the day.

Begun on December 9, 2010, the prisoners’ peaceful protest has been historic in scope and in the unity of thousands of black, brown, white, Muslim, Christian, Rastafarian prisoners, including those at Augusta, Baldwin, Calhoun, Hancock, Hays, Macon, Rogers, Smith, Telfair, Valdosta and Ware State Prisons.  For five days, now, these men have shut down all activity at most of these facilities.

            The prisoners are petitioning the DOC for their human rights, including being paid for their labor, provided educational opportunities, decent health care and nutritional meals, a halt to cruel and unusual punishments, and just parole decisions.

 PARTS OF AUGUSTA STATE MEDICAL PRISON IN GEORGIA
 
 
 
While the prisoners’ protest has remained non-violent, the DOC has used violent measures to force the men back to work—under the banner of law, despite the 13th Amendment’s abolition of slavery.  At Augusta State Prison, several inmates were brutally ripped from their cells by CERT Team guards and beaten, resulting in broken ribs, one man beaten beyond recognition.  At Telfair, the Tactical Squad roughed up prisoners and destroyed all their property.  At Macon and Hays State Prisons, Tactical Squads have menaced the men for days, removing some to the “hole,” the wardens ordering heat and hot water turned off.  Tear gas has been used to force men out of their cells at various prisons, while guards patrol grounds with assault rifles.

 

The DOC has made itself unavailable to the press and prisoner family members, creating fears that, behind closed doors, the Department will escalate this peaceful protest to a violent confrontation.  The Coalition is urging the DOC to come to the table in peace to address the prisoners’ concerns.

“Due to the harsh conditions faced behind bars and the need for prison reform, the men are staying in their cells as a form of peaceful protest.  No officials or staff have been threatened and no property has been damaged.  These men’s requests are reasonable and in accord with the basic respect and treatment every human being deserves,” said Elaine Brown, a social activist and former Black Panther Party leader.  Brown is spearheading the Concerned Coalition to Respect Prisoners’ Rights.  More information about the Coalition can be found on its Facebook page.

#   #   #

Contact:   Concerned Coalition to Respect Prisoners’ Rights concernedcoalitionga@gmail.com

LETTER TO GEORGIA GOVERNOR

Concerned Coalition to Respect Prisoners’ Rights

 

Gov. Sonny Perdue, Georgia

December 13, 2010

Via Hand Delivery

The Honorable Sonny Perdue

Governor of Georgia

203 State Capitol

Atlanta, Georgia  30334

Dear Governor Perdue:

            On behalf of the newly-formed Concerned Coalition to Respect Prisoners’ Rights, a nation-wide formation, I implore you to direct the Department of Corrections, headed by Commissioner Brian Owens, to cease and desist from using violent tactics to force prisoners engaged in a non-violent labor strike to return to work.

            The Coalition would like to sit down with you and Commissioner Owens to discuss ways to bring all parties to the table to address the prisoners’ concerns over human rights’ violations, including being forced to labor without pay.  We will make ourselves available at any time.

Edward DuBose, Pres. GA NAACP

            We look forward to coming together with you and the Commissioner as soon as possible, toward a peaceful conclusion to the prisoners’ strike.

 Sincerely yours,

Edward Dubose, Chair, Georgia NAACP

Tell the Georgia Department of Corrections that you stand with protesting prisoners

Click on: http://www.change.org/petitions/view/tell_the_georgia_department_of_corrections_that_you_stand_with_protesting_prisoners

Targeting: Brian Owens (Commissioner, GA Department of Corrections)

Started by: Wendy Jason

On Thursday, December 9, prisoners across Georgia joined in solidarity to demand that their basic human needs be met. You can help them gain access to the supports and services that will preserve their dignity by supporting their nonviolent protest. Please sign the following letter to Brian Owens, Commissioner of the GA Department of Corrections.

—-

Greetings,

I’m writing to express my concerns over the conditions of Georgia’s prisons, and to urge you to address the needs of Georgia’s prisoners.  After days of peaceful protest from prisoners across the state, no apparent action has been taken towards acknowledging their demands for measures aimed solely at preserving their dignity as human beings. Further, there have been reports that their nonviolence has been met with violence and the further deprivation of basic rights.
These acts of violence must stop, and the conditions of Georgia’s prisons must be addressed without further delay.  I stand in solidarity with the prisoners and insist that they be treated with respect and dignity, and that you act now to begin fulfilling the following demands:

·         A LIVING WAGE FOR WORK:  In violation of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution prohibiting slavery and involuntary servitude, the DOC demands prisoners work for free.

·         EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES:  For the great majority of prisoners, the DOC denies all opportunities for education beyond the GED, despite the benefit to both prisoners and society.

·         DECENT HEALTH CARE:  In violation of the 8th Amendment prohibition against cruel and unusual punishments, the DOC denies adequate medical care to prisoners, charges excessive fees for the most minimal care and is responsible for extraordinary pain and suffering.

·         AN END TO CRUEL AND UNUSUAL PUNISHMENTS:  In further violation of the 8th Amendment, the DOC is responsible for cruel prisoner punishments for minor infractions of rules.

·         DECENT LIVING CONDITIONS:  Georgia prisoners are confined in over-crowded, substandard conditions, with little heat in winter and oppressive heat in summer.

·         NUTRITIONAL MEALS:  Vegetables and fruit are in short supply in DOC facilities while starches and fatty foods are plentiful.

·         VOCATIONAL AND SELF-IMPROVEMENT OPPORTUNITIES:  The DOC has stripped its facilities of all opportunities for skills training, self-improvement and proper exercise.

·         ACCESS TO FAMILIES:  The DOC has disconnected thousands of prisoners from their families by imposing excessive telephone charges and innumerable barriers to visitation.

·         JUST PAROLE DECISIONS:  The Parole Board capriciously and regularly denies parole to the majority of prisoners despite evidence of eligibility.

I expect that you will convene a committee that includes prisoners, lawmakers, prison authorities, and prisoner advocates to take positive and concrete steps toward alleviating the inhumane conditions and lack of opportunities within Georgia’s correctional facilities.

Sincerely,

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11 Responses to STRIKING GEORGIA PRISONERS GAIN NATIONAL SUPPORT

  1. erica says:

    MY HUSBAND IS CURRENTLY IN ONE OF THE FACILITES THAT HAS PARTICIPATED IN THE PEACEFUL PROTEST I THINK THAT ITS GREAT THAT THEY ARE STANDING UP FOR THEM SELVES ONCE YOU GET PUT IN PRISON YOU ARE JUST ANOTHER NUMBER IN THE SYSTEM. WHAT SOME FAIL TO REALIZE IS THAT THESE MEN ARE A FATHER A SON A HUSBAND AND JUST BECAUSE THEY ARE LOCKED UP DOESN’T TAKE AWAY THEIR RIGHTS. THE CRUEL AND UNUSUAL PUNISHMENT WILL CONTINUE AS LONG AS THE PRISON GUARDS CONTINUE TO TRY TO USE SCARE TATICTS INTO TRYING TO MAKE THESE MEN SURRENDER. I WILL STAND BY MY HUSBANDS SIDE AND CONTINUE TO FIGHT THIS BATTLE WITH HIM AS WELL AS HIS FELLOW INMATES I URGE YOU TO TAKE INTO CONSIDERATION THESE DEMANDS OF INMATES IN THE PRISON SYSTEM AS THEY CRY OUT FOR HELP. THEY DESEREVE REHABLITAION FOR WHWN THEY ARE RELEASED INTO SOCIETY ONCE MORE, THEY DESEREVE TO RECEIVE NUTRIONAL MEALS, THEY DESEREVE TO RECEIVE EDUCATION AND IF THEY ARE FORCED TO WORK THEN THEY SHOULD BE GIVEN SOMETHING OF MONOTARY VALUE FOR THEIR LABOR, THEY SHOULD BE ABLE TO GET MEDICAL TREATMENT IF THEY BECOME ILL AS MUCH AS THE STATE MAKES OFF ONE INMATE THEY SHOULD BE BETTER TAKEN CARE OF THEN THEY ARE. THESE MEN ARE CRYING OUT FOR CHANGE LOOK PAST THE UNIFORM THEY MUST WEAR LOOK PAST THE CRIME THEY COMMITED AND HELP THEM
    -A PRISON WIFE-

  2. GODS ANOINTED says:

    I AGREE WITH A PRISON WIFE, I’M A MOTHER OF A NOW 20 YR OLD WHO WAS CONVICTED OF SOMETHING THAT HE DID NOT DO. HE TRULY DID NOT DESERVE TO RECEIVE 40 YRS WITH 20 TO SERVE FOR BURGLARY, HAVING NO CRIMINAL RECORD, NOT DENIAL THAT’S THE TRUTH. WITHOUT THE PROPER FUNDS YOU CANT WIN WITH THE STATE OF GEORGIA. WHILE HE IS THERE AWAITNG TO COME HOME IN THE NAME OF JESUS, HE DESERVES TO BE TREATED FAIRLY, AND TO BE FEED NUTRITIONAL FOOD, FAIR PAROLE CONSIDERATION AND THE PROPER HEALTH CARE. THIS WORLD AND THE PEOPLE IN CHARGE OF THESE PRISONS ARE SO CORRUPT. SOMETIMES WE NEED TO LOOK AT THE PEOPLE THAT ARE ON THE OUTSIDE OF THE PRISONS HOLD THEM RESPONSIBLE FOR WHAT THE PEOPLE ON THE INSIDE ARE DOING. THEY WILL NEVER HAVE AN IDEA OF HOW THEY ARE BEING TREATED UNLESS THE PUT SOMEONE ON THE INSIDE TO GIVE THEM A REPORT ON THE OFFICERS THAT THEY HAVE OVER SEEING THESE PRISONERS. THEY TREAT THEM LIKE ANIMALS. NOT FARE AT ALL. HELP! HELP! HELP! OUR LOVE ONES PLEASE

  3. Ex_Ga._Guard says:

    I babysat these georgia punks and thugs for 6 years at Bostick state prison..These inmates have more rights than me..No free medical care for me when I get sick and I don’t get to eat 3 times a day or relax and watch cable tv all day..99.9% of these thugs are where they need to be..The only reason I quit was because the new warden Alexis Chase was a hug-a-thug inmate lover..Giving them free candy bars and sodas every week and chicken dinners..Guards were instructed not to curse or use any use of force against an inmate..We had to stand by while somebody called the CERT team from baldwin state prison 5 miles away to come cuff them up..Unreal..Being a prison guard is not a fun job being cursed,threatened and spit at everyday but the admimistration expects a guard to cover 2 work areas being responsible for 224 inmates ande have them acting like boot camp cadets..Up yours Ga. Dept. Of Corrections..I don’t see how they even have enough guards to control a prison even in this economy..Most of the guards I worked with were worthless..Just there to do 8 and hit the gate and a lot of them were in cahoots with the prisoners..No way I will ever do this kinda work again,,The public just wants these thugs locked up and kept away from them and don’t even think about them anymore and the guards that have to babysit them.,It’s true..Inmates run the prison..Jail ain’t like it used to be..It’s now like a big social event and fun now.

    • Diane Bukowski says:

      You were clearly spit on and otherwise appropriately dealt with by the prisoners in the fashion you describe because of your racist, knuckle-dragging attitude and demeanor. The prisoners know a REAL THUG when they see one. If you don’t have free medical care, talk to your BOSSES and your union; that’s not the prisoners’ fault. At least some of the other guards appeared to have more humane attitudes. Good riddance to you–it’s a good thing you got out of there before you experienced true justice.

      • ExGA._Guard says:

        Dew Wat?..The only racist thing I said was CHICKEN DINNERS..But you are right..I hate prison nigga’s..They look and act like african jungle gorillas.

  4. jim jones says:

    I am a correctional officer of 19 years at one of these prisons that had the sit down and guess what? I kinda liked it—at least you did”nt have to listen to all of the crap and abuse coming from these thug and yapper wantabes.The prison should have a total lock down all of time for these pathetic juvenile idiots. The whole time I have been with the departmart of corrections in Georgia I have never seen any excessive use of force used on any inmate and I have worked the floors in all of the buildings my intire employment.I have seen force used several times because an inmate put his hands on an officer to hurt him and I can”t tell you how many times including myself that one these so called abused scum has throwed urine and feces on us.Before all you exconvicts and bleeding heart naacp wannabe lawyers wanna be in the paper to make a name for your self–come on down to the so called beat down prisons of Georgia and stay a while see for your self—National Geographic is!—-why not you? These prisoners have got it made in prison and they are just like a bunch of spoiled brats that needs their butts spanked because when they don”t get their way and they start acting up like spoiled kids do.Have you ever heard the old phrase”spare the rod spoil the child”? I’ts too bad that it”s not like the “Cool Hand Luke” days— if it was, then I just don”t that we would have a” failure to communicate” with the majority of all of these projects born thugs who don”t even know who their fathers are.It all stems from the home and guess what?— who”s fault it is they are being housed by the state?Why don”t we let them all out and come live with all of yall who are complaining about the food and treatment and living conditions!I wished all of you bleeding hearts had to put up all of the crap we line officers have to, then I think you would change your minds about just what you had heard from all of these -thieves -rapist- drug dealers-gang bangers-and murders have told you over these contraband smuggled in cell phones which puts us in danger every day.You don”t think they would fib a little bit—do yah?How pathetic can you be!You people make me sick!!!!Why don”t you people get a real job?Hey–the dept. of Corrections is hiring—–come on down I bet these little angels locked up would welcome you with open arms!!!!

    • Diane says:

      Your comments are permeated with racism, when you say all the prisoners are “project-born” with “no fathers” and numerous other references. In fact, the prisoners rose far above your neanderthal attitudes by uniting among all races, Black, Brown and white, and all religious persuasions. Society continually tries to divide poor folks from each other using race; that is nothing but brainwashing by the rich so they can continue laying waste to our cities, foreclosing on everyone of all races both in the cities and the suburbs, enacting skyrocketing utility rates, and getting billions of our tax dollars in bailouts when their greed threatens to cause an economic meltdown. But fools like you stand in the way of uniting folks on the outside and are nothing but ignorant lackeys for those rich folks. As one columnist said in this paper, your comments are worth nothing more than “warm spit.”

      • Diane says:

        Forgot to mention that you are fortunate the prisoners decided to keep this a peaceful protest. When prisoners rose up at Attica in 1971, taking over the prisoners and taking some guards as hostages, Gov. Nelson Rockefeller sent in the troops to spray the yard with gunfire, killing not only prisoners but guards as well. That’s how much YOU are worth to the powers that be in this society.

  5. I worked for the DHR for many years, with forences clients, irealize that many people cpmmit crimes out different reson, however what ever crime they have commit they should be treated as human being and provided with the rights of human beings. i believe that education is the best rehabilation for most inmates. There are some that will not except changes and there or intimates that have remorse about there crimes. we as human being should do our up most best to help those that ask for a second chance at making changes in their lives, that include treatment mentally and physically, vocational training so that they can also earn a living after release. Unuable to gain employment is another problem when release from prison. prison should be able to feel that their family members or being also treated with respect when they visit. We need to evaluate our prison system and promote a more well being system that will address prison and victims healing needs instead of harrasment,intimadation and abuse which will only bring the worse out of any human being.

  6. kenhp1 says:

    1) Why should these prisoners think they should be able to sit around all day at others expense. They should be required to work. This is their contribution to their upkeep and part of their punishment.
    2) All prisoners with a release date of seven years or less should have the opportunity to learn a trade. This is the only way we can expect them to be productive, law abiding citizens. Their WORK can help pay for this service. NO FREE EDUCATION.
    3) Nutritional meals should not be a problem. Inmates should be growing their own vegetables and fruit. Other inmates should be working in the cannery and freezing food for later use.
    4) After the inmate has worked their daily shift and wants to work out it should be offered. This should be limited to cardiopulmonary training and not weightlifting. Physical examinations as well as inmate behavior should be acceptable to participate.
    5) The DOC should make every attempt to ensure inmates have access to their Family
    and other sources of support. Those visiting should have a criminal check to limit criminal activity.
    6) Decent, cost-effective healthcare should be available to inmates. Again, some of this cost could be covered by prisoner work, possibly in the making and selling of products. Also helping support other state agencies with materials and labor, helping offset expensive healthcare cost.
    7) Solitary confinement is the most cruel punishment one can endure. I believe other alternative discipline be implemented, which would include reasonable bare bottom discipline with a prison strap ( males only). Bruises and minor blisters acceptable. No bleeding or scarring. If they had gotten this at home they might not need it now. Solitary confinement should be a last resort.
    8) Paroles should be contingent on those that WORKED hard, stayed out of trouble have shown interest in education, rehabilitation, AA & NA participation. Not affiliated themselves with gangs or criminal brotherhoods.
    There are consequences of crime. It should not be a free ride without any responsibilities. These work requirements and other activities produce choices the inmate has to make. If they sit on their duff and not engaged they will learn nothing. Time for inmates to work for their keep, be rewarded or learn from the choices they make. I believe with this structure inmates should have the ability to shorten his/her sentence after extensive psychological evaluations have been completed. We must stop throwing away the key or releasing people we know are unable to cope with the outside world because we as a society have decided to give up on them.

  7. Please keep me updated concerning your struggles, we’re fighting just as hard here in Louisville, Ky

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