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It is our intention to transform “prison slaves” into respected and productive members of the international proletariat movement. As a proletarian, YOU, the sister or brother sitting on your bunk, or in your cubicle, or in the day room reading this essay – YOU are a WORKER and not a SLAVE. Your lives matter, and you have great potential to be an extremely productive and successful member of the new society we are struggling to create.
On Oct. 4, 2015, at the McConnell Ad-Seg Unit located in Beeville, Texas, prisoner Jarvis Dugas, No. 1386881, was preparing for a visit with his mother. Dugas, who is known to his friends as “Homestead,” is a Black man who is mentally handicapped and physically disabled. He walks with a pronounced limp. Dugas’ mother, Regina Strange, is a former employee of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. She is all too familiar with the overt tactics of mistreatment, abuse and degradation associated with the corrupt prison agency and because she knows that, she regularly visits her son Jarvis.
Lest there be any doubt, in 2019 the C2RTP boycott must go on. I mean, many cite 1619 as the year that the first slave cargo ships arrived on these shores. Thus, the year 2019 represents a historic marker, 400 years of struggle. Queen Tahiyrah has dubbed 2019 as “The Year of Justice” and this will be the theme of Volume 1, Issue 3, of the next edition of Barz Beyond Barz Magazine. For me, “The Year of Justice” will usher in the Special Litigation Project 2019. The SLP will focus on identifying and challenging laws that play an important role in facilitating mass incarceration.
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.
This prisoner-led strike is not only about their list of 10 demands; it’s a clear call for their human rights! This is no small feat – and it’s dangerous! These men and women are putting their lives on the line – for themselves and for us. The retaliation began weeks before the strike even began. Don’t think for one moment this isn’t also about us here on the outside. Most of us are complicit in the horrors that have taken place in our nation’s prisons.
I’d like to send out a clenched fist salute to Amani Sawari of Jailhouse Lawyers Speak. I have studied the transcript of Amani’s appearance on Democracy Now! with Amy Goodman. Amani did an excellent job articulating the reasons for our actions. Amani also had the presence of mind to highlight and accentuate the fact that we, the prisoners across Amerika, seek to be treated as human beings and given meaningful opportunities toward our rehabilitation.
The following statement was released by the Palestinian prisoners of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, jailed by Zionist colonialism for their role in struggling for the freedom of their people. They are among nearly 6,000 Palestinians imprisoned by the Israeli occupation today. Their solidarity comes to extend fists of resistance and hands of unity through prison bars to support the U.S. National Prison Strike, beginning Aug. 21.
I have always said that if you want to understand the nature of a thing, you must research its origin. I would venture to say that the iconic freedom fighter and servant of the people Malcolm X was the first “Prison Panther,” although he was not known officially as such. However, when Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale founded the Black Panther Party for Self Defense in 1966 at Merritt College in Oakland, California, the legacy of their hero, OUR HERO, Malcolm X was on their mind.
Our movement is fighting hard to amend the 13th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution to strike its “slavery clause” that forces prisoners to work for free or for pennies in the prisons, in the fields like slaves of old and in sweatshops manufacturing goods. We are calling for your help in raising the public’s awareness of the existence and the urgent need to end prison slavery inside the state of Texas and across the nation. Let’s dedicate Juneteenth 2018 to abolishing slavery once and for all!
There is one place in the U.S. where slavery is still constitutionally legal: in prisons. The 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, passed in 1864, abolished slavery and involuntary servitude, except as punishment for a crime. But prisoners held in this enslavement are organizing resistance. Brave prisoners within the Florida state prison system have organized themselves into a month-long work strike called Operation Push. It began on Jan. 15, Martin Luther King Day. In a phone interview, an anonymous prisoner-activist specifically linked the strike to King’s legacy of protest against racism and economic injustice.
The following message is from a group of prisoners who are spread throughout the Florida Department of Corrections. It was sent anonymously and compiled from a series of letters received on Nov. 26 and 27. According to their statement, these prisoners plan to initiate a work stoppage or “laydown” beginning Monday, Jan. 15, coinciding with Martin Luther King Day, in nonviolent protest of conditions in Florida prisons. They are calling it Operation PUSH.
So let’s take a look at the work we are doing: 1) attempting to amend the 13th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, 2) abolishing prison slavery and, in my case, 3) exposing the pervasive problem of toxic water supplies in Texas and Pennsylvania! Yes, I did say Pennsylvania! We have seen retaliation and obstruction of justice tactics by employees of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.
Today Swift Justice received information that Kinetik Justice (Robert Earl Council), co-founder of the Free Alabama Movement, was assaulted by two correctional officers at Limestone Correctional Facility last week. Swift Justice asked us to pass these words along: “TODAY I ask EVERYONE, no matter what state or country, to unite and protect Kinetik Justice in a time he needs us most!”
Since Sept. 13, 2016, when Warden Raybon released approximately 20 people from segregation, most of whom were there for violent incidents – only to see several stabbings take place, including one person critically injured and another losing an eye – a total of eight more officers have either quit or given notice. Now officers are expressing concern that ADOC commissioners are intentionally exacerbating violence at the expense of human life in efforts to push forward their plan to extort the public for $1.5 billion to build new prisons in next year’s legislative session.