Palestinians confined in Israel’s brutal prisons issued a statement of solidarity on Aug. 20 with the National Prison Strike in the U.S. Members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine expressed the utmost support for their sisters and brothers jailed in this country’s horrific system of mass incarceration who courageously launched a nationally coordinated protest against their imprisonment and the oppressive conditions they face. For bravely carrying out this act of international solidarity and other acts of defiance, Israeli prison officials retaliated against imprisoned PFLP leaders on Aug. 29.
Prisoners are rising up in institutions across the country – and now internationally – in protest of the living and working conditions in the prisons. The first week of the strike has just come to an end and we have seen a substantial wave of success. The mainstream media attention on the strike has been monumentally greater than we have ever seen in the past. Along with this, the public narrative towards prisoners has changed dramatically. The public eye is focused on securing and protecting prisoners’ rights. We are also committed to highlighting the injustices that are inherent to our criminal justice system.
Across Amerika, home of the world’s largest prison population, growing numbers of the imprisoned are coming to realize that they are victims of social injustice. Foremost, they are victims of an inherently predatory and dysfunctional capitalist-imperialist system, which targets the poor and people of color for intensified policing, militaristic containment and selective criminal prosecutions, while denying them access to the basic resources, employment and institutional control needed for social and economic security.
This call is for a two-week national strike beginning on Aug. 21, the anniversary of George Jackson’s assassination, and extending until Sept. 9, the anniversary of the Attica Prison Rebellion in 1971. The call has been taken up inside from coast to coast, and across at least 17 different states. The author of this call, 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.
Men and women incarcerated in prisons across the nation declare a nationwide strike in response to the riot in Lee Correctional Institution. 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.
Prisons are corporate entities. We can make the calls to End Prison Slavery and Amend the 13th all we want, but the fact remains that if we don’t organize around defunding the enterprise, nothing is going to change. The Campaign to Redistribute the Pain 2018 is more than just a boycott against prison contractors. It is more than just a call for the next salvo in the struggle to end slavery. It is, among other things, the next step in the process to forge our struggle into a national movement.
I started writing this series and planning this Campaign to Redistribute the Pain with the intention of getting everyone’s understanding up on the importance and power of economics to our struggle. We can’t march and protest our way to freedom. Instead, we have to bankrupt the corporate enterprise that was created by the 13th Amendment. I don’t make this statement lightly: The approximately 3 million people in U.S. prisons are or represent the most powerful group of labor in this country.
First and foremost, we must stay on message. And what is that message? We are uniting to End Mass Incarceration and Prison Slavery. In doing so, we have to keep at the forefront of our heart, mind and spirit that slavery – which predominates over mass incarceration – is an economic enterprise system that is mathematically put together and thus capable of being scientifically taken apart.
I cried, “Help, Mama Harriet, help!” and you, ... Beautiful young warriors, came Toyi-toying ... from Ferguson, Baltimore, The Town, etc. ... Through teargas clouds, pepper spray storms ... You came tying traffic into hangman nooses, ... shutting malls down like open and shut cases ... of killer cops who walk. You came wrestling ... Your minds out of the hands of exploiters!
“An American Nightmare: Black Labor and Liberation” will be transformed from paper to the screen with a Kickstarter campaign to raise money for a seven-part film series co-produced by Deep Dish TV and Cooperation Jackson and directed by Kali Akuno. Please go to Kickstarter and donate as generously as you can before Nov. 7. The theme: 150 years since an end to chattel slavery, anti-Black racism is still a virulent force in the U.S. The cause? The path to liberation?
Nelson’s film documents what those who lived through it already know – that the Panthers quickly became a mass movement throughout the country. Their message of unqualified resistance to racism, armed self-defense and anti-capitalist revolutionary politics galvanized the creation of chapters of the Party in nearly every city and state of the U.S. Much has been written by and about the Panthers. But Nelson’s film is the best short introduction to the Party to date.
The New Underground Railroad Movement is a grassroots inside-outside organization that recognizes that the institutionalization of mass incarceration is the greatest civil rights and social issue we are faced with today. The New Underground Railroad Movement is dedicated to shutting down the “prison industrial complex” through tactical, organizational and grassroots work strikes, boycotts and class conscious empowerment.
It is hard not to cry watching the unfolding horror in Gaza – children with heads blown off, a pregnant woman with her body torn by a shell, babies with missing limbs, targeting of playing children, targeting hospitals, targeting ambulances and even a handicap center, killing two handicapped children. Israeli forces then ratcheted up their attacks committing large scale massacres in places like Shujaia and Beit Hanoun.
I was pleased to read about the current talk of creating a political action committee (PAC) for prisoners. There was a time when I despised the whole oppressor political apparatus, but I was lucky enough to have comrades who explained that there is nothing wrong with being involved in local politics because these are the ways that we can transform our communities at the current stage in our struggle.