Tag: National Prison Strike
I’m thrilled to share that I will be joining 19 other activists and changemakers for the 2019 Roddenberry Fellowship! Jailhouse Lawyers Speak’s Right2Vote (R2V) Campaign is being recognized for the direct impact on civil rights in the United States. The Roddenberry Fellowship supports 20 activists, organizers, leaders and changemakers who are working to make the U.S. a more inclusive and equitable place to live. Fellows’ projects focus on one of four issues: Civil Rights, Immigration and Refugee Rights, LGBTQIA and Women’s Rights, Environmental Protection.
In the same way that Black dollars matter, our story also matters and we are responsible for holding and sharing our stories and the stories of our ancestors. Often in public education the stories of our ancestors are left out of the curriculum with the more popularized figures crammed into the shortest month of the year. In an attempt to assist with centralizing our story on our collective consciousness I’ve worked with Sincere in Michigan’s Department of Corrections to create OurStory Calendar.
On Tuesday, Dec. 11, up to 40 immigrants detained at the now infamous Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma began refusing meals, initiating a hunger strike in protest of the conditions they face. One detained activist listed the group’s demands as follows: “I am part of a group of detainees that are going to go on hunger strike as the only way to protest and shine a light on the abuses that we suffer here." This strike is the latest in a series of strikes protesting conditions inside the facility; the most recent mass strike began on Aug. 21 in conjunction with a national prison strike.
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.
During the National Prison Strike, Jailhouse Lawyers Speak (JLS) inspired incarcerated and outside activists across the country. Activists on the outside were inspired by prisoners’ leadership on the inside, their ability to work effectively through limited communication and under the threat of retaliation. After the strike, incarcerated people were even more inspired by the activism that happened across the country on the inside. Prisoners from each corner of the country are realizing the power that they have to influence positive changes in their environments.
The lockdown of 47,000 prisoners in all 25 Pennsylvania prisons began Aug. 29, 2018, and lasted for 12 days. Department of Corrections (DOC) Secretary John Wetzel backed by Gov. Tom Wolf said the lockdown was an emergency measure to protect prison guards. They claimed there was widespread illness of guards from physical contact with synthetic drugs. This is false. The lockdown looks like it was a planned pre-emptive action so that the National Prison Strike didn’t spread to Pennsylvania prisons. The “drug emergency” was a pretext to isolate, repress and control prisoners.
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.
For decades the Black community has been heavily targeted by the war on drugs, which resulted in the disenfranchisement of many families of color and the destruction of Black communities nationwide. Now the same drugs are making white business owners billions of dollars for engaging in the same practices that Black “entrepreneurs” were incarcerated for at astronomical rates. NEW is offering free clinics throughout the week of Oct. 20-27 to assist with the legal and economic barriers affecting those disenfranchised by the War on Drugs.
On Tuesday, Aug. 21, the first day of the historic National Prison Strike, Democracy Now interviewed Amani Sawari. The segment began with an excellent interview with Cole Dorsey of IWOC and then suddenly the bright, brilliant, radiant face of 23-year-old Amani filled the screen and a voice of eloquence, inspiration and power filled the room. All it took was host Amy Goodman saying she’s a journalist, and, involuntarily, spontaneously, I pointed at the screen and shouted, “There’s the new Bay View editor!” Amani and I have been talking ever since, and she came to visit Oct. 8-12. What fun we had.
Rashid wasn’t transferred out of state; instead, he was transferred to Sussex II, another Virginia prison. He has been put under extraordinarily bad conditions, and we need everyone who can to start calling into that prison to make demands on his behalf. The focus should be on his medical emergency. He needs to be taken to medical to have his blood pressure checked and in order for any adjustments to be made to his medications.
Statement regarding the Nationwide Prison Strike of 2018 issued Oct. 15, 2018, by the Prison Strike Media Team. The extent of repression and retaliation by prison authorities against suspected participants in this year’s nationwide prison strike continues to emerge slowly. The National Lawyers Guild Prisoners’ Legal Advocacy Network (NLG-PLAN) has received additional details from 12 states.
Kanye West has never been afraid to speak out even if what he had to say wasn’t in line with popular opinion. Kanye saying slavery was “a choice” offended many people by degrading the lives of the millions of people who suffered for centuries as slaves. Recently, at the White House, Kanye sprinkled some gold gems in with the foolishness, especially his statement about the 13th Amendment, which did not abolish slavery, not in prison. I refuse to reject the help when entertainers like Kanye West join prisoners in advocating for prisoners’ rights.
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.
As incarcerated people across the country began a three-week series of protests, a contingent of physicians, health professions students and other allied health professionals expressed their solidarity with the protestors. More than 125 students and healthcare providers signed an open letter endorsing the National Prison Strike, with many participating in local solidarity actions or making phone calls to prisons to show support for the strikers’ demands.
While I was immersed in the National Prison Strike back home, I had no idea how solidarity looked to others who felt trapped outside of the resistance. Some felt unable to connect with the people they desperately wanted to join in fighting for. Some Americans may say, How can I support a prisoner? in the same way that I struggled to connect with Tico Educators – in both cases knowing that their plight is worth fighting for.
On Aug. 21 until Sept. 9, there was supposed to be a nationwide protest within the penal system. Aug. 21 is the anniversary of Black Panther Gen. George Jackson being killed by the pigs and Sept. 9 is the anniversary of the 1971 Attica Rebellion. Mr. Jackson was a true revolutionary and the Attica Rebellion was a revolutionary time in history. The people have no idea of class struggle.
Jailhouse Lawyers Speak (JLS) is currently continuing to focus energy on supporting strikers who’re suffering retaliation, raising awareness of those who continue to strike and educating policymakers of strikers’ demands. These will be our primary focuses in this season. Action points: Print and distribute Issue No. 6 of Solid Black Fist. Support prisoners still striking, raise awareness that the National Prison Strike continues in Ohio and California. Circulate the online petition to Congress demanding prisoners’ basic human rights needs be met.
Perhaps no demonstration has been more effective in illustrating the states’ inhumane treatment of prisoners than officials’ decision not to safely relocate incarcerated people trapped in the red zone area of Hurricane Florence’s path after South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster issued an evacuation order to citizens on Sept. 10. The state’s refusal to safely move prisoners out of the hurricane’s path is a blatant disregard to the humanity of those residing there dependent solely on the state’s protection.
The National Prison Strike flooded the media and transformed the national narrative surrounding prisoners’ human rights. While the symbolic end date of the national prison strike passed on Sunday’s 45th anniversary of the Attica Uprising, prisoners take the lead in determining whether to continue striking depending on their individual circumstances at their institutions: some extending the call, others placing a new date on their call and even striking indefinitely.
Prisoners have been staying strong throughout these weeks of the prison strike. Thank you all for your support in this movement to end mass incarceration and prison slavery as well as to bring livable conditions to the living and work spaces of incarcerated individuals in the United States. This has been a monumental effort and our success is being recorded as we speak. Don’t get tired; don’t allow prisoners to get tired. We must continue to fill them with energy as they strike. You all are doing amazing work and I’m incredibly thankful and honored to be among you.
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