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In the ‘70s and ‘80s and throughout the ‘90s there was a strong progressive revolutionary prison movement throughout the state of Indiana. The two dominant and often competing political lines or ideologies were Revolutionary Nationalism or New Afrikan Communism as represented by the New Afrikan Independence Movement (NAIM) and Afrikan Internationalism as represented by the Afrikan People’s Socialist Party (APSP). Other tendencies were represented by Anarchists, Marxists and Maoists.
In the wake of the white supremacist violence in Charlottesville, the left’s anti-fascist response to defend that community and the death of Heather Heyer, a rally that had been planned and organized over a two-year period by imprisoned people and the grassroots prison advocacy group IAMWE offered a powerful opportunity for those looking to actively confront white supremacy. Their demand is the end of slavery in America – the elimination of the “exception clause” in the 13th Amendment.
On Sept. 9, a series of coordinated work stoppages and hunger strikes will take place at prisons across the country. Organized by a coalition of prisoner rights, labor and racial justice groups, the strikes will include prisoners from at least 20 states – making this the largest effort to organize incarcerated people in U.S. history. The actions will represent a powerful, long-awaited blow against the status quo in what has become the most incarcerated nation on earth.
As momentum continues to grow against the colossal U.S. imprisonment system, the need for strategic targets is crucial, yet we are seeing an overbearing focus on private prisons. We are in a moment when reforms that appear to be “progressive” can actually entrench the violence of policing, imprisonment and surveillance even further.
The title of my book, “Annotated Tears: America’s Auschwitz,” came from one of the poems inside. It’s a socio-political piece geared toward unveiling California’s injustice system, with specific reference to its treatment of juveniles, which upon reflection resembles Hitler’s Germany. The piece, entitled “America’s Auschwitz,” begins: Everybody’s a victim -- Sick depictions of pain ... Gestapos lurking through the ghettos -- Trailed by a bag of chains ...