For details of rally: https://www.facebook.com/events/228130971150468/
Nat’l strike endorsed by Jailhouse Lawyers Speak, Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee, It’s Going Down, Michigan Abolition, GEO, more
Men and women incarcerated in prisons across the nation declare a nationwide strike in response to the riot in Lee Correctional Institution, a maximum security prison in South Carolina. Seven comrades lost their lives during a senseless uprising that could have been avoided had the prison not been so overcrowded from the greed wrought by mass incarceration, and a lack of respect for human life that is embedded in our nation’s penal ideology. These men and women are demanding humane living conditions, access to rehabilitation, sentencing reform and the end of modern day slavery.
The United States incarcerates the highest number of people in the world, both in absolute and relative terms. But prisoners and abolitionists are challenging the foundations of mass incarceration. Over the past decade, a wave of prison rebellions has swept the country, increasing in both frequency and intensity.
In September 2016 the largest coordinated national prisoner strike occurred in facilities around the country. These rebellions prove time and time again that caging and torturing humans is violence and will be resisted by those locked up by the system. Prisoner resistance demonstrates that instead of solving the crisis of capitalism, prisons themselves are the crisis.
WE ALL AGREE TO SPREAD THIS STRIKE THROUGHOUT THE PRISONS OF AMERI$$$A! FROM AUG. 21ST TO SEPTEMBER 9TH, 2018, MEN AND WOMEN IN PRISONS ACROSS THE NATION WILL STRIKE IN THE FOLLOWING MANNER:
- WORK STRIKES: Prisoners will not report to assigned jobs. Each place of detention will determine how long its strike will last. Some of these strikes may translate into a local list of demands designed to improve conditions and reduce harm within the prison.
- SIT-INS: In certain prisons, men and women will engage in peaceful sit – in protests.
- BOYCOTTS: All spending should be halted. We ask those outside the walls not to make financial judgments for those inside. Men and women on the in side will inform you if they are participating in this boycott.
- HUNGER STRIKES: Men and women shall refuse to eat.
We support the call of Free Alabama Movement Campaign to “Redistribute the Pain” 2018 as Bennu Hannibal Ra – Sun, formerly known as Melvin Ray has laid out (with the exception of refusing visitation). See these principles described here: https://redistributethepain.wordpress.com/
HOW YOU CAN HELP
- Make the nation take a look at our demands. Demand action on our demands by contacting your local, state, and federal political representatives with these demands. Ask them where they stand.
- Spread the strike and word of the strike in every place of detention.
- Contact a supporting local organization to see how you can be supportive.
- Be prepared by making contact with people in prison, family members of prisoners, and prisoner support organizations in your state to assist in notifying the public and media on strike conditions.
- Assist in our announced initiatives to have the votes of people in jail and prison counted in elections.
- If you are unsure of who to connect with, email email@example.com.
TO MAKE PRISONS OBSOLETE, WE HAVE TO SUPPORT THE STRUGGLE OF THE FREEDOM FIGHTERS AND PRISON REBELS BEHIND BARS.
Some places to find updates about the prison strike:
For the Media: Inquiries should be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org
The author of this release, Jailhouse Lawyers Speak, is a national collective of incarcerated people who fight for human rights by providing other incarcerated people with access to legal education, resources, and assistance. The national call to action has now been endorsed by the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee (IWOC) as well as various other prisoner-advocacy and abolitionist groups around the country.
Join GEO in Lansing, MI for National Prison Strike Rally!
GEO (AFT-MI Local 3550, AFL-CIO) supports the National Prisoners Strike, August 21st to September 9th, 2018. In order to draw attention to incarcerated workers’ demands, and to deter retaliation against participating prisoners, we call upon workers to join the solidarity march and rally in Lansing on Thursday, August 23rd.
The nationwide strike is being called in response to the incident of violence at Lee Correctional Institution in South Carolina, April 2018, in which dozens of workers were injured and seven were killed. These deaths could have easily been avoided had the facility not been overcrowded; had the inmates not been subjected to hopeless and violent conditions; and had prison guards and EMTs not waited hours before intervening. In the aftermath, all Level 2 and 3 facilities in South Carolina were put on statewide lockdown, denying prisoners any freedom of movement, regular access to showers, recreation, or meals outside their cells.
Organizers of the strike are thus fighting for humane living and working conditions, access to rehabilitation, sentencing reform, and an end to mass incarceration. (The full list of demands can be found here.)
The strike call has also been endorsed by, amongst others, the Graduate Employees’ Organization (IFT/AFT Local 6300, AFL-CIO) of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee (IWOC) of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW); Jailhouse Lawyers Speak; Millions for Prisoners; The People’s Consortium.
§ Common Dreams’ report in the lead-up to August 21
§ GEO 6300 at UIUC’s solidarity statement
§ Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee’s solidarity statement
§ MAPS (Michigan Abolition and Prisoner Solidarity) action page.
For day by date updates on prison strike: http://sawarimi.org/
AMERICA’S PRISONERS STRIKING FOR THEIR LIVES
By Issac Bailey
I won’t ever forget the photo of the minutes-old murder a prisoner at Lee Correctional Institution in South Carolina sent me. It wasn’t a high-quality picture. But I could clearly see the blood, which covered the white clothes of a bearded inmate looking in the direction of the camera. I could see the desperation in his eyes.
The murder occurred in a prison where one of my youngest brothers, James McDaniel, was more than a decade into a 16-year-sentence for his role in an attempted armed robbery of a fellow drug dealer that ended in the death of one of the potential assailants. My mind reflexively jogs to that image every time I think about what prisoners throughout the country will be attempting to do beginning today, when they launch a national prison work strike organized by the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee
The first of the prisoners’ 10 demands is simple: Immediate improvements to the conditions of prisons and prison policies that recognize the humanity of imprisoned men and women. Their other demands are important as well. They include a decent wage for the work they do; a restoration of Pell grants; better funding for rehabilitation services; better ways to air legal grievances; and an end to sentences without the possibility of parole, among other reforms.
But those goals won’t mean much if the first one isn’t met. Without “immediate improvements,” some prisoners won’t even live to benefit from any fruit that comes of the strike. Others may end up psychically and emotionally scarred beyond recognition even if they physically survive.
Prisoners are trying to raise awareness with a nationwide strike because all their other attempts have fallen on deaf ears.
That’s not hyperbole. Rape is an ever-present threat in prison. (It’s estimated that more than 200,000 men are raped behind bars every year.) The last time I visited a prison in South Carolina several months ago, anti-rape posters were plastered throughout the visiting area.
Violence is another constant. Earlier this year, the deadliest prison riot in recent memory happened at Lee Correctional—the place where James is trying to survive, and that my oldest brother Moochie had to navigate before being released after 32 years. Seven prisoners were killed in the riots; several others were severely injured.
Before that event, James had been telling me that something awful was brewing because of the conditions inside those bars. People had to fight off rat and roach infestations. They were locked in their cells for longer periods of times every day, with fewer breaks. Even their right to shower was curtailed because of cutbacks in prison personnel. There were fewer guards to supervise the seemingly mundane and routine tasks that allow men behind bars to feel fully human.
For info on how to sign the petition above: http://sawarimi.org/archives/1775
The incentive for prisoners to join gangs increased as the number of guards on duty began dropping. It was one way they felt they could keep themselves safe, because they knew if they ran into trouble, in was unlikely a guard would show up on time to stop the attack. That’s precisely what James said happened to the man in that photo I’ll never forget.
The dead prisoner in the photo had supposedly violated a gang code against the use of hard drugs. He had been using something called “ice molly,” and other such things that frequently got smuggled inside. He had barricaded himself in his cell after getting high on the drugs.
“They got tired of waiting on him to come out, so 10 of them kept beating on the door until they got in the room,” James told me. “It’s a little Asian dude smaller than me, so about 15 of them ran into the room and started stabbing him…they stabbed him out of fear.”
James has also seen drug overdoses and suicides as prisoners respond to what they have increasingly begun calling “a death trap” of an existence.
“This white dude was telling his counselors he was going to kill himself, but they didn’t believe him,” James told me. “The next day, he stood on the top rock by the TVs and jumped head first into the concrete.”
That’s why prisoners are trying to raise awareness with a nationwide strike, because all their other attempts have fallen on deaf ears. They are literally striking for their lives.
For many Americans, awfulness being visited upon people who have done awful things to others represents just desserts. They did the crime, so they must do the time. They have no right to our empathy or sympathy.
Not only are such sentiments cruel, they are short-sighted. We routinely provide second chances to the wealthy and powerful. Leaving redemption’s door open to those who messed up while trying to navigate a life full of challenge would be one of the most effective ways to ensure equality.
There is a more practical reason to advocate for the more humane treatment of prisoners. Most of them will be released one day. It would be better for society–for us all–if they come out healthier and stronger than they went in.
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